Erik McCoy didn't wait until the day before Saints' rookie minicamp to make his way to New Orleans.
McCoy isn't wired that way.
So instead, he visited New Orleans the week before.
"Just to get a feel for the city," McCoy said.
It didn't take the 6-foot-4, 315 pound center from Texas A&M long to discover one thing about his new home.
"I love the food," he said. "I had some really good crawfish étouffée."
The New Orleans Saints signed 10 players, including a a former LSU track star and a veteran NFL fullback, from their rookie minicamp
That early trip to New Orleans wasn't just about McCoy though. It was also about Bianca Soliz. That's his girlfriend-turned-fiancée. McCoy proposed to her the day after the Saints traded up in the second round of the draft to select him. But even that proposal wasn't just some spur-of-the-moment idea.
"I probably knew 4-6 months before I got drafted (that I was going to do it)," McCoy said. "I just wanted to know where I was going to be, because I wanted her to come with me. I couldn't be happier. That's my bride-to-be."
So that's why McCoy was in New Orleans a bit early, scoping out the place where he is hoping to make his mark on the latest edition of what is considered one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
McCoy is one of the players who will be looking to fill in at center for Max Unger, who retired after last season. He is one of four centers on the roster. The Saints signed Nick Easton in free agency and two other players on last season's roster, Will Clapp and Cameron Tom, also play center. And the Saints signed 3-year veteran center Marcus Henry, who was at this weekend's rookie minicamp as a tryout player.
"It's something I'm looking forward to," McCoy said. "These guys are veterans and they have been in the system a lot longer than I have. I look forward to going out and proving what I can be."
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McCoy acknowledges learning all the terminology used in the NFL has been a lot tougher than it was during his days in College Station. He's also learned that the coaching is a bit different too. In the pros, he says, it's more about technique.
"I learned the first two days here that it isn't simple," McCoy said. "But I'm learning."
Saints coach Sean Payton has been pleased so far with McCoy.
"He's been good," Payton said. "He's smart. He's a guy you can see that he's experienced at his position. He's playing center. He's in good shape. Overall, it's been good."
J.T. Barrett, the Saints practice-squad quarterback last season, took most of the snaps from McCoy during rookie minicamp and was pleased, too.
"He's solid," Barrett said. "He has a solid foundation at center. He's really quick, holds his ground and such an athletic guy."
According to Pro Football Focus, McCoy allowed just one sack in more than 1,500 snaps while in college. He was both durable and consistent. Making that stat even more impressive is that he did it competing in the Southeastern Conference, something McCoy says should help with the transition to the NFL. Two of the defensive tackles he played against (Alabama's Quinnen Williams and Mississippi State's Jeffery Simmons) were top 20 first round picks in the draft. McCoy ranks Simmons as the best player he ever faced.
"(Playing in the SEC) helped me a solid amount," McCoy said. "I played against multiple first-round guys. I'm not bragging on that or anything, but there was a high competition level. Of course it's not as high as this one, but I feel like it gave me a good start."
McCoy is a player who Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said "checks all the boxes." It's the reason Loomis traded up 14 spots (from No. 62 to 48) to get McCoy. Now McCoy is looking to make the most of the opportunity. He said he still has a ways to go but that he loves where he is now.
He has a bride-to-be. He has a city he's embracing. And he now has a new team.
"It's something I dreamed of since I was a kid," McCoy said. "Coming into an NFL camp and competing and just doing what I can do to make this team a better team."