The list of unknowns for Idaho football was long entering the 2022 season. The Vandals had a new head coach in Jason Eck, who was tasked with competing in a loaded Big Sky conference, and a quarterback competition between three players throughout the offseason. Gevani McCoy entered the competition with three games of experience, while South Dakota State transfer J’Bore Gibbs had experience running an offense under Eck and CJ Jordan was looking to win the job after an injury ended his 2021 season.
McCoy won the competition and was named the starter before the season-opener against Washington State. In his first two starts against Power-5 competition, McCoy totaled 416 passing yards and four touchdowns for the Idaho offense. The Vandals proceeded to win five straight games as McCoy established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Sky, including his record-setting performance against Northern Arizona as McCoy completed 90.0% of his passes against the Lumberjacks.
The defining moment of McCoy’s freshman season happened in Missoula, MT as the Vandals faced the #3 Montana Grizzlies in a crucial Big Sky matchup. McCoy completed 77.8% of his passes for 286 passing yards and two touchdowns to give Idaho their first road win over Montana since the 1999 season.
McCoy finished his record-setting season as the school’s single-season leader in completion percentage (68.4%) and his 170.6 passer efficiency is the second highest single-season mark in school history. He also led the Vandals to their first FCS Playoff appearance since 1995 and the first winning season since 2016.
After his spectacular freshman season, McCoy was named the 2022 Jerry Rice Award winner. He received 31 of the 54 first-place votes, which was 22 more first-place votes than second place finisher UAlbany QB Reese Poffenbarger. McCoy’s vote totaled 203 points, while Poffenbarger finished with 118 points and Saint Francis (PA) WR Makai Jackson finished third with 105 points.
“It means so much,” Gevani McCoy said in an interview at the 2023 FCS National Championship game this Sunday. “Just the name Jerry Rice… He’s the greatest of all-time (G.O.A.T). I’d like to dedicate this award to Xana (Kernodle), Ethan (Chapin), Maddy (Mogen), Kaylee (Goncalves), and all my classmates. Just all the tragedy in our community… it’s the least I can do and it’s something I wanted to do.”
McCoy was honored at the FCS Stats Perform national awards banquet on January 7 in Frisco, TX. Gevani was able to speak one-on-one with Jerry Rice at the ceremony, which is an experience he will not forget.
“Jerry (Rice) dropped a whole lot of gems last night. He’s a real cool, down to earth dude. I talked to him for probably 45 minutes and just chopped it up. He said that a leader is just someone who makes everyone around them better in all aspects.”
McCoy’s final message to the Idaho fanbase was clear about the expectations for the Vandals going into next season. The Jerry Rice Award is just the start for the young signal-caller out of Baldwin Hills, CA.
“My expectation for the 2023 Vandals is that all the Vandal fans are in Frisco, TX right here in this stadium (Toyota Field).”