Those words speak volumes to Graham (Texas) senior quarterback Case McCoy every day when he glances at them on the wall in his bedroom.
Case has grown up in the shadow of his famous older brother, Colt McCoy, who has won the Davey O’Brien, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards and hopes to lead the University of Texas to the national championship against Alabama on Jan. 7 in Pasadena, Calif.
Already making a name of his own, Case hopes to lead the Graham Steers to Texas’ Class 3A Division II state title Saturday against undefeated Carthage (15-0). A state championship is one of the few honors which eluded Colt during his illustrious high school career.
Video: Graham vs. Pittsburgh
The Steers’ only loss was to Brownwood, 28-27, when a point-after kick was blocked with no time left on the clock. Their 14-1 record represents an amazing turnaround following last year’s 3-7 mark with a young team.
"Eli" is of course Eli Manning, the younger brother of superstar Peyton Manning. Case sees himself in a similar situation as he follows in the footsteps of ultra-successful Colt. Eli made it big, so why can’t he?
The comparison goes even deeper because Peyton and Eli followed the path of their father, Archie, who was a standout NFL quarterback. Colt and Case also have been raised to be quarterbacks by their father, Brad, who is the head coach at Graham.
“The Mannings have had a huge impact on me,” Colt wrote to MaxPreps via e-mail. “I had a chance to work their camp this summer and spend a lot of time with them. They are great people that I learned a lot about football and life from.”
Case adds, “They (the Manning family) have carved our path – not only in football but in our lives.”
Case calls Colt “my role model and idol. I’ve always wanted to do everything he’s done. I have a chance to do something he didn’t do (win a state title).”
The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder wears uniform No. 4 in honor of his brother, but also in honor of another favorite, Brett Favre.
Asked about feeling pressure, Case replied, “Not really. My dad in the beginning prepared me for all of that. I’ve watched Eli and Peyton. I’ve learned a lot from Colt about things off the field – how he deals with the media. Being a celebrity, how he keeps his life in check and never goes big-time on people.”
On-the-field comparisons are inevitable.
“We’re both competitors and winners,” Case says. “Me and Colt get away from pressure and throw on the run. I’m almost more accurate throwing on the run and not out of the pocket. We’re both having dream seasons. Colt watches a surreal amount of film, which has influenced me to do the same thing.”
It may have taken Case a little longer, but he now also can match his big brother’s tough mental attitude – particularly about playing in bad weather.
“Colt says he plays his best in freezing weather,” Case noted.
When Case was a sophomore, he let sleet and a nine-degree temperature get the best of him during a playoff game against Argyle. He threw just 12 times (he had been throwing 30 times per game) and completed only one pass in a losing effort.
“It was one of those (unforgettable) moments in my career,” Case said. He vowed to himself, “I will never be cold again in this type of weather.”
Earlier in this year’s playoffs, Case “played one of my best games” in freezing weather and the result was a lopsided victory over Wimberley.
“Case and I are very much alike when it comes to our values and character,” Colt related. “We learned that from our parents and the strong Christian family we were brought up in. We are very close and did everything together as kids. We both like to hunt and fish. We’re both very busy, but we have a good talk at least once a week.
“As players, I think we’re pretty similar, too, and that probably is a reflection of our coach,” Colt said. “Case is definitely more developed as a player at his age than I was. It’s a blessing for me to come from a small school and play at Texas, but for both of us to have that opportunity is really special.”
Brad McCoy says, “They are so similar in style. Both are thinkers (Case has a 4.0 GPA and is No. 8 in his class). They are leaders and they take kids with them (through inspiration). You put film on them and you can’t tell them apart.”
Their father-coach was able to point out only one small difference – Case is about a half-inch taller and slightly heavier than Colt was at the same age.
Despite their close relationship, Case admits he’d love to one-up his famous brother for family bragging rights. In fact, he already has more career passing yards, 10,682. Colt passed for 9,344 while playing for a different school, the Class 2A Jim Ned Indians in Tuscola, Texas.
However, Colt still leads him in single-season touchdown passes (52-45) and career touchdown passes (116-101). This year, Case has completed 245 of 408 passes (60 percent) for 4,148 yards and 45 touchdowns. He has thrown just 12 interceptions.
Case has the advantage of starting for four years, while Colt started only three years.
Because Colt casts such a huge shadow, why on earth did Case make a commitment to attend the University of Texas?
"Growing up in the state of Texas, every boy dreams of playing at the University of Texas because it’s the premier school," Case said. "It’s home and a family atmosphere for me. They are going to compete for a national championship every year. I’m going to have to show that I’m a hard worker. Garrett Gilbert is a great quarterback and I’m going to learn from him like he learns from Colt.
“I’ve overcome the fact of living in Colt’s shadow, but the second I throw an interception at Texas, people are going to say, ‘He’s not as good as Colt.’ I have a firm foundation in my faith. I’m prepared for that moment.”
Brad said he knew when his boys were very young that they had great athletic potential and, therefore, he usually had them compete against older players. Football has tied the family together for many years.
“As far as athletic ability, I must have married over my head,” he quipped. “My wife (Debra) played basketball at Abilene Christian (where he was a football wide receiver).
“Obviously, it’s a huge blessing for me as a father and coach. This is the 12th year to have a son (on his team) and also the last year. I’ve always been able to count on them for leadership. There’s not another thing I could have done professionally to have such a close relationship with my kids. It’s a relationship I’ve cherished.”
There have been very few rocky moments between father and sons, because Brad warned them as youngsters that he “was going to be harder on them (than their teammates). They don’t mess up much, even in practice. But when they did, I made a big deal of it.”
The McCoys have a third son, Chance, who no longer is playing as a junior at Abilene Christian. He was a sophomore when Colt was a senior and switched from quarterback to wide receiver.
“He caught 63 passes as a sophomore and would never go back to quarterback,” Brad noted.
Brad calls Debra “the barometer” in the family. She will make it very plain when football begins taking up too much time at home. Surprisingly, however, the former college point guard also has been known to chase her “boys” away from the television set and back to preparing for the next game.
Debra related, “For Case, there has been an element of expectation that we didn’t have with Colt (because Colt set the standards). Case has gone on the journey with Colt. There is a certain amount of pressure. Case has his own expectations. He’s harder on himself.”
Like everyone else rooting for the Steers, Debra says it would be “awesome” for Graham to win its first-ever state title on Saturday.
“It would be huge for our community and also for my dad and my family," Case said. "Our town is on Cloud Nine right now. It’s something I’ve dreamed about ever since Colt lost when I was a ball boy. It would be a dream come true to go out with a bang.”
In Colt’s senior campaign (2003), Tuscola Jim Ned lost the Class 2A state championship game, 26-14, to San Augustine. Case was in sixth grade at the time.
“I think I probably bawled like a baby,” Case admitted. “I’ll be crying (this Saturday). I just hope it will be tears of joy.”