PITTSBURGH — LeSean McCoy's second Backyard Brawl rivalry game against West Virginia apparently won't be his last.
Despite speculation he might enter the NFL draft next spring, the Pittsburgh running back said Tuesday he plans to return for his junior season.
"I'm talented, but right now I'm in school and I'm looking to stay here," said McCoy, who has rushed for 2,453 yards and scored 33 touchdowns in two seasons. "I'm not really pushing to go anywhere. When you look at the pros, guys like Ray Lewis and Brian (Urlacher), that's their job. When you're in college, you can just have fun and play ball."
McCoy, a sophomore who spent a year in prep school, is only the third Pitt running back to have successive 1,000-yard seasons. His breakaway ability and knack of getting tough yards are looked upon favorably by NFL scouts, and he is listed among the top 25 players — a potential first rounder — by scouting service Scouts Inc.
Other prominent college players have said they would stay in school, only to change their minds once they determined they would gain nothing financially by doing so. McCoy said that won't be him.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said.
Dave Wannstedt, Pitt's coach, previously coached the Dolphins and Bears and is equipped to give the 20-year-old McCoy an honest evaluation of whether he is ready for the NFL. Two years ago, Wannstedt told junior cornerback Darrelle Revis he was ready, and Revis was drafted 14th overall by the Jets.
"Coach Wannstedt, he'll tell me when it's time. And I feel I'm not ready yet," McCoy said.
The 5-foot-11, 210-pound McCoy thinks staying in school at least another year would benefit him physically.
"I'm the one who has to take all the hits," he said. "I'm still a young kid. I think my size, I can get a little bigger and stronger, and I can become a better blocker. My knowledge of the game is coming on faster than I thought, and that's pretty good for me."
Pitt (7-3), guaranteed of playing in its first bowl game in five seasons, will return seven starters on offense next season and McCoy wants to be part of that team. If McCoy had chosen to leave, Friday's home game against West Virginia (7-3) would have been his last at Pitt.
"We'll definitely be loaded, and a lot of reasons why guys come back instead of going to the pros is the team that they'll have the next year," McCoy said. "When I look at our team next year, we're going to be stacked."
Right now, Wannstedt only wants McCoy to get going during Friday's game. McCoy ran for 148 yards in Pitt's 13-9 upset of then-No. 2 West Virginia last season, but has been held to 121 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games following five consecutive 100-yard games.
McCoy had 82 yards and two touchdowns against No. 16 Cincinnati on Saturday night, but Pitt fell behind by three touchdowns during the 28-21 loss and wasn't in position to run.
"We were second-and-15 and third-and-10 throughout the game," Wannstedt said. "Now, all of a sudden, to hand him the ball and get five or six yards and punt, it doesn't fit. Because of penalties and sacks and a couple of plays that didn't work, we found ourselves backed up more than in any game all season. That really took LeSean and what he can do, really took him out of the game."
Pitt wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald left following his sophomore season in 2003, though he had a more prominent career than McCoy has had and nearly won the Heisman Trophy.
McCoy has had a more impressive college career than Curtis Martin, who had only one 1,000-yard season at Pitt but went on to become the NFL's No. 4 career rusher. McCoy's 33 touchdowns are nine more than Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett had during his first two Pitt seasons in 1973-74.