It was hard for Mike McCoy to come to grips with the fact that his football career was over.
But now that the Kansas State running back has made his decision official, the former Topeka High star plans to approach the next stage in his life with the same enthusiasm he had as a player.
“I’m glad for it to actually be known now so I can start my new path in life,’’ said McCoy, who announced Tuesday that he was retiring as a player because of a spinal condition he was born with. “I didn’t ever want it to be over because football’s always been a dream for me my whole life, and now that it’s finally done, I really didn’t know what to do for a while. The biggest thing was figuring out what to do next because it’s been a part of my life for so long.
“With the bond I’ve built here at K-State, coach (Chris) Klieman and all the staff agreeing to keep me on the staff is the greatest option for me, so I’m happy they gave me the opportunity for that. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what I’ll be doing because it just happened.’’
McCoy, who will remain on scholarship at K-State, announced his decision Tuesday on Twitter and was overwhelmed by the support he received.
“I was very happy with all the support I got after putting it out there,’’ he said. “I didn’t think it would get that big, I was surprised about that. I’m getting a lot more love than I thought I had here. It’s a blessing.’’
McCoy’s decision came in the wake of a series of spinal incidents dating back to the summer before his senior season at Topeka High when he was attending a full contact team camp at Kansas.
“It was a weird feeling, but it only lasted for like five seconds and I ended up finishing the scrimmage and getting MVP of the camp after that,’’ McCoy said with a laugh.
After redshirting his first year at K-State, McCoy saw action in three games as a redshirt freshman in 2017, totaling 55 yards on 10 carries. He notched a season-high 33 yards with a 15-yard touchdown against Charlotte and also rushed four times for 14 yards against Central Arkansas and twice for 8 yards in the Cactus Bowl win over UCLA.
McCoy was expected to step into a more prominent role in 2018, but he suffered another spinal incident shortly before the K-State spring game and continued to have issues last summer before being sidelined for the entire ’18 season.
McCoy saw multiple doctors, including a top spinal specialist in Dallas, who advised him against continuing to play.
“They found out I’ve got spinal stenosis and it’s a narrowing from like C2 to C4 in my spine and my spinal cord really doesn’t have enough room,’’ McCoy explained. “They said it was just too many incidents and it was just better for me to do this.’’
McCoy said that his decision to quit playing came down to trying to be smart now instead of sorry later.
“At the end of the day you want to be someone who can get to experience time with their family and kids and young cousins and play around and I don’t want to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life,’’ McCoy said. “I had to get that through my head.
“I knew it was time and my parents knew it was time. I didn’t want to hear it, but it is what it is. God’s got a different path for me so I’m going to live through that.’’