Cohen is one of Florida's finest

Palm Bay High School in Melbourne, Fla., has two of the most coveted athletes in the entire country and both are scheduled to visit LSU when the Tigers host South Carolina on Oct. 19.

One is fullback/defensive end Joe Cohen (6-3, 247, 4.47), who is rated the fifth best defensive end by, and the other is receiver/safety Reggie Nelson, (6-0, 175, 4.4), rated No. 2 in the country at the safety position.


Cohen is such a gifted athlete that he could play either fullback or tailback on offense, and defensive end or linebacker on the other side of the ball. He has started at all four positions at Palm Bay but this year he will stick with defensive end and tailback, which is his favorite spot on the field.


"I like offense more than defense," said Cohen, who is fully qualified with a 2.7 grade point average and an 850 on the SAT. "I like to run the ball. No, I love to run the ball. I love getting hit, or at least when they try to hit me. I was blessed with size and speed and I take advantage of it."


Palm Bay coach Dan Burke likes watching Cohen run with the ball so much he has made him the center of his offensive game plan in 2002. After all, in Palm Bay's first three games, Cohen has rushed for more than 100 yards in each contest against defenses that feature prep All-Americans.


"He's really become a leader for us," Burke said. "Joe is a strong powerful runner and nobody is too happy when they have to try to tackle him. Then he has the speed to go with that powerful running style. Penn State told him they would give him the ball a lot and he really liked that."


Penn State is not the only school to tell him he can play wherever he wants because he is the type of player that will excel at any position he settles into. Along with the Nittany Lions, he has offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee and Michigan, to name only a few of the schools that have extended him an invitation to join their program. As of now, the only official visit he has scheduled is the trip to Baton Rouge, and after that he said he is wide open.


"LSU is up there pretty high," Cohen said. "All of them I'm looking at are pretty high right now. One thing that really caught my eye about LSU was it was the first team that gave Reggie and me an official offer. Everyone is always talking about their night games. I heard their night games are very exciting with the atmosphere and the crowd. I've never even been on a plane so everything is going to be kind of cool to me."


Something else Cohen is looking forward to is being able to sit down and talk one-on-one with LSU coach Nick Saban because of the bond they formed over the summer.


"He is pretty down to earth," Cohen said of the Tigers' third-year coach. "I talked to him before and he seemed pretty down to earth and I like that. I like that a lot in a coach. I don't want to hear a coach talk just about football. It gets annoying when you talk to all of these college coaches and all they want to talk about is football.


"I like it when they ask me about my life, or when they tell me about their life, or even crack a joke. He talked about life in general and not just football. He was pretty cool."


Cohen said he and Nelson really want to sign with the same school and that will play a big factor in their decision.


"We always talk about going to the same school and if everything goes right then we'll be playing together," Cohen said. "It would be great for us both. If he looks at a school, then I'll look at it too. We pretty much agree on everything, but if he looked at a school that I didn't like then I would look at it a little bit harder. But so far, every school we've talked about is one we like. It isn't going to be that easy to split us up."


Judging by Cohen's assessment of Nelson's ability on the football field, some lucky college coach could reap the benefits of signing, not one, but two of Florida's finest.


"Reggie's bad," Cohen said. "He plays linebacker for us but he is a bad safety. His motor never stops running. He has an instinct for the game and it seems like he always knows where the ball is going to be.


"He can be all the way on the other side of the field but wherever the ball is going to be, he'll be there. He is so fast that if you throw the ball 20 yards down the field and he is at the line of scrimmage, he'll still get there before the ball. I don't know how he does it."


Note: Check for a profile on Reggie Nelson in the upcoming issues of TigerRag.

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