That is why when he raves about Auburn freshman Nick Coe it makes what the North Carolina native has done during his redshirt year even more impressive.
He has yet to play in his first game and hasn’t even challenged for playing time, but Coe has shown his coaches and teammates plenty already and Adams said he believes the best is yet to come.
“I think Nick Coe going to be a great player,” the All-American said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but I think Nick Coe is going to be a special player here at Auburn.”
That’s something that has been echoed time from the people around the program, including Coach Gus Malzahn, who said Coe has the ability to be an impact player and will get the chance to show that in the spring.
“Nick Coe has a skill-set that can play defensive end, there’s no doubt,” Malzahn said. “We’ll have to get out in the spring, but he’s got a lot of raw ability. In the spring I’ll be able to answer that question a little better. I’ve been impressed with him so far.”
Nick Coe came to Auburn as a two-sport standout in high school in football and wrestling.
Someone who knew exactly what Auburn was getting in Coe is his high school coach, Owen George. Throughout recruiting George talked about the tremendous upside of his talented defensive lineman and the state champion wrestler and now he’s showing that and more on the Plains.
“I think the biggest thing with him, and we know he got down there pretty late, his body physically wasn’t ready to contribute,” George said. “Right from the get-go I could see a transformation in the first two or three months. He really hit the weights hard and you could tell. I think he put on 20-30 pounds the first two months he was down there (arrived at 245 and currently 275).
“He understood that it’s a process,” he added. “Nick is very level-headed. He understood that ‘I’m not ready to contribute for Auburn right now, but if I get myself in shape and do the little things and learn from the guys above me’. You’ve got All-American’s and five-star guys playing in front of him. I think Nick really sponged a lot of that up from him in terms of how they prepare themselves week in and week out.
“Walking on campus as a four or five-star is great, but you’ve got take the gifts that God gave you and put the time and effort in and obviously be a coachable kid. Coach (Rodney) Garner is intense and he told me about some things and how practices went down, but he said ‘he’s a great coach and he’s going to prepare me for the next level.’ He’s really enjoyed his time down there and they’ve treated him so well. Just the whole process of everything was great.”
In addition to keeping up with Coe himself, George built a strong bond with Garner during the recruiting process and he talks with the Auburn assistant as well. Recently they had a conversation, one that George said started with the news that Coe had all A’s and B’s and finished talking football.
“I told him that right off the get-go this was a great conversation,” George said of the academic update. “Nick obviously had some work to do in high school, but getting down there and having the structure he needed, I knew he had the capability upstairs. That was obviously a great call.
“Then we just talked about how Nick is fitting in,” he added. “He (Garner) said you won’t find a player or a coach on our team that has anything negative to say about Nick Coe. He told me, ‘He’s got a switch Coach, and when he gets on that practice field we see things.'
“He said obviously that wrestling background and leverage, it’s so hard to coach that. He just said it comes so natural for him. He told me, ‘If he keeps his mind right expect to hear big things about Nick Coe the next few years.' I don’t think he want to talk NFL-type stuff, but if Nick just stays the course in terms of progressing in terms of his body in terms of progressing, he said ‘you’ll hear things about Nick Coe because he’s got all the tools’.”
The potential is what has Coe’s coaches and teammates excited, but they know all too well that potential doesn’t mean anything if you don’t step up when it’s your time. That time is coming soon and it begins when the Tigers take the field for spring practice.
A guy who will be a leader on the defensive line for Auburn next season, Dontavius Russell said that’s when they’ll see exactly what Coe is made of but he likes the potential for the big freshman.
“You still have to go through fall and spring practice and that kind of stuff,” said Russell, who added, “but I feel like he's going to be able to contribute and help us.”