Rodney Coe Wants the Ball

He heard all the talk and scoffed. Then his highlight video hit the Internet and Rodney Coe was an instant success at a position he was telling everyone he could play. Now colleges are lining up for the Edwardsville (IL) running back and at 6-3 and 240 pounds, Coe is one prospect that stands out in a crowd. Nowadays he is as shifty off the field as on it when it comes to recruiting.

It hasn't been easy to explain to recruiters that he is a running back and not a linebacker or defensive lineman. When you look at Rodney Coe before he ever takes the field, it would be hard to imagine that a man that big can move well enough to play running back at the division one level. Then, you watch his highlights or see him move in person, and the entire perspective changes.

He can play it all, but Coe knows that running back is his best position for the college game and beyond.

"My freshman year I played all middle linebacker," Coe said explaining that he is athletic enough to play some defense. "Both as a sophomore and junior year I played running back, linebacker, and kick returner."

It is a natural mental transition for coaches to assume someone with Coe's size cannot handle running with the ball.

"In the beginning, they loved my size, but they said I was too big to be a running back," Coe said with a shrug when talking about college coaches assessing his play. "Then, they saw me on YouTube and now everyone is talking about me as a running back. I have speed, can run people over, and can make people miss in the open field. I can run for big long runs. I am not the typical big back and that's what coaches like about me."

It got to a point where Coe was really frustrated over the notion of people doubting his offensive prowess.

"It got on my nerves when people said I wasn't going to play running back...judging me on my size," he said. "Now I know I am just doing what I want to do and go where I want to go. Now everyone is recruiting me as a running back and if they weren't I wouldn't be talking to them."

Coe is a leader on his team of leaders. His Edwardsville team is looking to make huge strides in 2010.

"Our team is looking great and we have 31 seniors coming back," he said. "It is a big class and I feel pretty good about it. Last year was the first time we made the playoffs in four years, so that is why we think we will be pretty good.

"Our offense is good in the running game, but we need to work on our passing and blocking more. Our defense is pretty stable, but we can get better on gang tackling to the ball and stuff like that."

He runs medleys and also throws the shot put on the school's track team and has over 30 offers to play college football from elite teams around the country. He is trying to take it all in before settling on a choice.

"I am wide open and just going out and taking some visits," Coe said. "I'm not rushing to make a decision any time soon."

This summer, he will be making a tour of some southern schools, in particular schools in the SEC. There will be more on the docket, as he wants to settle on a final five before September.

"I am trying to go down to Arkansas, Auburn, and Alabama this summer," he said. "I want to get all the unofficial visits I can get in before my senior year so I can have a top five to take official visits to."

He talked about the three SEC teams that he will visit this summer.

Arkansas: "I am looking for a pro-style I-formation offense, but my uncle also went there. I talked to a couple of coaches and they seemed real cool so I just want to get down there and see how the vibe is."

Alabama: "The national championship is a big thing. It is just another school I am really interested in looking at."

Auburn: "Coach Malzahn and my head coach are real good friends. They want me to come down there and see how they coach."

The Florida Gators are another program that Coe has his eye on. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio visited Coe's school last week and per NCAA rules he couldn't talk to Coe, but the big back knows the Gators are keeping an eye on him.

"I talked to Coach Drayton a while ago, but David Young texts me every day," Coe said of the Gators' running back coach and the sophomore offensive lineman from his school. "(Young) says I need to come down there and check it out. He tells me how they supply you with great food all the time (laughing). He says I need to come down there because it is real wild."

"Coach Drayton told me how they changed the offense and are trying to do more I-formation stuff. He says they only have small backs and they need a big back like me."

His wide open stance to recruiting is understood given that he really had no favorites as a child. He will be making the decision on other factors.

"I didn't have a favorite college team growing up and I wish I did because it would probably be a little easier right now," he said laughing. "I am looking at playing time and the depth chart. I want to see the offense and how it is run. I also want to see what the people are like."

"In the beginning distance was an issue, because my grandma wanted me to stay close. But I told her I wasn't sure I wanted to do that. She is fine with it."

Rodney Coe is a man with an opinion and he doesn't stray from that opinion. Don't tell him where to play on the field or which direction to lean when it comes to a college program. He will be fine making his own way.

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