NORMAN — Despite a difficult transfer, a failed NCAA appeal, a year of ineligibility and only two catches this season, Kansas wide receiver Justin McCay has no regrets.
“If I could do it over, I'd do it the same way,” McCay said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
The former four-star prospect who signed with Oklahoma out of high school, then transferred to be closer to his family, will face his old team Saturday, when the Jayhawks host the Sooners at 2:30 p.m.
McCay committed to Oklahoma just before his senior season at Bishop Miege High School in Shawnee, Kan., and only months after his father, Robert, died of a heart attack caused by complications from diabetes.
The big receiver established a close relationship with Sooners' co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jay Norvell, who attended Robert McCay's funeral.
But after a redshirt year in 2010, then only three game appearances with no receptions in 2011, McCay decided to transfer closer to home.
But he said the decision was 100 percent family-related; his grandmother, Denise White, was sick and didn't have much time left to live, he said. She died in August.
College football coaches have the power to limit which schools a transferring player can attend, and typically restrict them from joining conference rivals. But Bob Stoops didn't do that, instead allowing McCay to transfer to Kansas, the closest major university to his home.
“I thought Justin was a nice young man, and things didn't work out and he wanted to be closer to home,” Stoops said. “I wasn't glad to see him go, but I was glad to be helpful and allow it to happen.”
Also factoring into McCay's decision was that his high-school head coach, Tim Grunhard, joined the KU staff as offensive line coach.
“It just shows the kind of head coach we have here, allowing Justin to transfer and be home and closer to his family,” Norvell said. “That was something that most guys wouldn't do in the conference.”
McCay appealed to the NCAA for immediate eligibility, but his request was denied, forcing him to sit out the 2012 season and lose a year of eligibility because he'd already redshirted at OU.
“I was really disappointed,” McCay said. “They approved a couple more (appeals) the same year. It's hard to battle the NCAA, because they're gonna decide what they're gonna decide.”
McCay said he was upset at the beginning of last season, but quickly got over his anger and tried to make the best of his year off.
“I just treated it like another redshirt year,” McCay said. “Don't sulk or pout about it. I've gotta learn the offense and get ready for next year.”
This season hasn't gone the way McCay likely envisioned, though. He's only made two catches all year — both coming in the season opener against South Dakota — for 12 yards, but was listed this week as a starting wide receiver, perhaps allowing him to make a bigger impact against the Sooners.
“I don't think it'll be strange,” Norvell said of playing against McCay. “We play against friends and people all the time so we're kind of used to that.
“We care about Justin as a person. We wanted to see him have success. … It'll be good to see him and obviously we hope he's doing well.”