Brandon McCoy had a difficult start. He was kicked out of high school his senior year for cheating and had to complete his GED in summer school. He was kicked out of his home for drug abuse and ended up living in a house riddled with drugs for a year. When his father suggested the Army, Brandon seized the opportunity to pull himself together.
In 2004, Brandon enlisted. He had some trouble adjusting to the mentality, but soon, he allowed the military to change him for the better (John Henry, North Texas senior credits Army for turnaround, Star-Telegram). Brandon served in Iraq for over a year, driving Humvees in supply runs and combat mission (Brandon McCoy Named 2013 Armed Forces Merit Award Winner, Mean Green Sports).
While serving, Brandon clung to the dream of college football:
“I have been working at this dream for a long time. I have been telling guys since I was in the fields in Iraq that I was going to go play college football and give it all that I’ve got.” (qtd. in Brett Vito, Enlistment in U.S. Army helped teach UNT defensive lineman Brandon McCoy life lessons, SportsDay)
When he was discharged in 2008, Brandon enrolled at the University of North Texas. While he pursued a degree in Kinesiology, Brandon also walked-on to the UNT football team in 2010 as a defensive lineman. His impact as a leader on the team was immediately felt by both coaches and teammates, who all referred to him as “The Sarge.”
Head coach at the time, Dan McCarney, recognized Brandon’s leadership, saying that Brandon has “the same courage, heart and class as a leader on our football team as he did overseas protecting the freedom of our country. He is a true patriot.” (qtd. in North Texas' McCoy Named Armed Forces Merit Award Recipient, Armed Forces Bowl)
Brandon’s leadership and impact on the sport was recognized in his senior year. At age 28, Brandon was elected captain for the 2013 season. He was also honored as the winner of the second Armed Forces Merit Award, presented by the Football Writers Association of America.
“I never, ever envisioned getting such a prestigious award a few years ago, much less getting my degree but the military and the armed forces taught me so much and I am so appreciative to receive this award.” (qtd. in Brandon McCoy Named 2013 Armed Forces Merit Award Winner, Mean Green Sports)
Brandon McCoy is humble, but ultimately, he accomplished the goals that he set for himself in the military. Brandon is now a husband and father of two sons. He works in the nutrition industry.