[Premium article] This past summer I wrote an article about Booker T. Washington High School (Atlanta, Ga.) football coach Rodney Cofield. Coach Cofield, as you may remember from reading the article, turned the Washington HS football team completely around from a down and out program back to what it once was, one of the most highly respected and successful football programs not only in Atlanta, Georgia but the entire state of Georgia.

When we last spoke to Coach Cofield he had a difficult choice to make, stay at Booker T. Washington HS as their head football coach or take the same job at a school that was going to be very close to his home and where his child would go to school. It was a great opportunity for him and something that he really gave great thought about.

I spoke to Coach Cofield last night. We discussed his final decision and talked about a couple of his seniors who are being highly recruited.

Coach Cofield, the last time we talked you were in the midst of having to make a very difficult decision about whether to leave Washington HS or stay. What was your final decision and the reason you made it?
Coach Cofield: "It was a very spiritual decision in making my choice of staying at Washington High School. I thought, personally, that I was gone. Sometimes what you think is in store for you turns out not to be the case. It's in God's hands. I guess it wasn't my time to leave."

When we last talked you mentioned different things that led you to believe that you would decide to go with the new school?
Coach Cofield: "That's right. My son going to the new school played a very important part but I decided to stay. It was a very, very tough decision to make."

How is it working out for you and your team?
Coach Cofield: "Great. I'm kind of thankful because I'm so blessed that I did stay. We've gone through a lot of adversity this year. We are taking each game one at a time. A lot of kids have gotten hurt. I can really relate to what Mississippi State is going through right now. I haven't had a healthy team since day one. My star running back, a Parade All-American, Nick Turner, got hurt and hasn't played but one game. He had a mild foot sprain but that ended up being a hair-line fracture. We thought it was a sprain, so he stayed off of it for a week or two and got back on it."

Having him out was a major blow to your team because he is one of the top players in the United States?
Coach Cofield: "He is the real deal. We are about three touchdowns behind because he has not played. This kid can turn a game around with his quickness. Just give him a little daylight and he is gone."

How has your season been with him out?
Coach Cofield: "We are 7-1."

(Laugh) I thought you were going to say you were 1-7 or 2-6 from how you talked.
Coach Cofield: "No, we have been taking each game at a time. Some young kids have stepped up before it was their time. They have been doing a good job."

With a 7-1 record, you will obviously make the playoffs?
Coach Cofield: "We beat one of the top-ranked teams last week to make the playoffs."

With Nick Turner, it is no telling how good you would be?
Coach Cofield: "With that kid healthy and everybody else, the sky is the limit."

Will he be back for the playoffs?
Coach Cofield: "Yes he will. He played one game for us, against our big rival Douglass, about four or five weeks ago."

When do you start the playoffs?
Coach Cofield: "They pushed them back a week due to the September 11th tragedy. They will be the week after Thanksgiving."

Talk about Nick Turner. How good is he?
Coach Cofield: "I've seen a lot of great players in high school. Players that I have coached and coached against. I have never seen anyone as talented as this kid. To make a long story short, he is a very talented, gifted kid. You can give him the ball for short yardage and the next thing you know he has gone 80 yards. He has that 4.3 speed and that quickness and great 100 meters speed (10.5 to 10.6 seconds). He is 6-foot-0, 185. He is something special. He makes me look like a good coach (laugh)."

Talk about his recruitment.
Coach Cofield: "He doesn't have any special interest in any particular school. Several schools, including all the schools in the south have offered this boy a scholarship. His primary focus is his standing in class and getting his health back. I don't think him thinking about a school is one of his priorities right now. He is the type kid who will evaluate everything after the end of the season. He and his parents will decide where he wants to go."

What kind of student is he?
Coach Cofield: "He is a C+, B- type student, depending on how hard he wants to work. I don't see him having any problems qualifying because he can do the work."

You said most of the schools in the south are recruiting him, does that include Mississippi State?
Coach Cofield: "Yes, (MSU assistant coach) Jim Tompkins has talked to him several times. They, like all the other schools, are recruiting him heavily."

I know Nick plays running back. Does he play any other position?
Coach Cofield: "Yes, he played defensive back. He plays well wherever I put him. (laugh) He led our region last year with seven interceptions, part-time. We just used him for situations."

You are going to miss him next year.
Coach Cofield: "I tell you. I'm been missing him this year. (laugh)"

Don't you have another player that Mississippi State has shown some interest in?
Coach Cofield: "Yes, Almonte Duncan. Jim (Tompkins) came by and looked at him and got some film of him. They like him but haven't offered."

Who else is looking at Almonte?
Coach Cofield: "Georgia, a lot of Division 1AA schools, North Carolina has shown some interest. He is getting some good interest from some schools."

Is he more of a defensive end than a tackle?
Coach Cofield: "That's right. He is 6-foot-4, 240-pounds."

How is he doing academically?
Coach Cofield: "I think he may have qualified with the score he made on his last (ACT) test. I'm not sure but I think he has."

Thanks for your time, Coach Cofield.

[If you would like to read the original article, CLICK HERE to go to it. - Gene]

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at

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