4-Star safety is still wide open

C.J. Avery out of Grenada is one of the more sought after prospects in the state of Mississippi. Why is the 6-foot-1, 195-pound safety so coveted? His coach helps explain.

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"He's just a great kid," Grenada head coach Ashley Kuhn said. "He has tremendous work ethic which is evident in the classroom as well. He's a full qualifier that is set to graduate in December. The bottom line is that C.J. is just a great kid with a tremendous work ethic."

The attributes on the field are just as good for the Dandy Dozen selection.

"He's a great player who has a very high IQ of the game. He's been around the game his whole life because of his dad and cousins. The Averys are one of the biggest football families in this community. They just know how to play ball. What separates C.J. apart is how physical he plays. He's a big hitter and is very versatile. He can play several different positions. He predominately plays free safety for us but he can play outside linebacker, strong safety or even cornerback. I envision him being a strong safety on the next level though."

What is the All-State performer's skill set?

"His has the size and strength to play linebacker but he runs so well. C.J. breaks on the balls really well. He just covers so much ground on the football field."

Avery had 69 tackles and five interceptions as a junior. The school just down the road from Grenada, Ole Miss, has seen several things they like in his star player.

"They like his size and how physical he plays. He's versatile. They think he can play strong safety, free safety or even outside linebacker one day. They like the fact that he's versatile enough to play several different positions for them."

The recruiting attention started last summer for Avery.

"C.J. started getting a lot of attention last summer. Alabama was the first school to offer him. Things really took off after Alabama offered him. The local schools (OM/MSU) offered shortly after Alabama. That's when it really took off."

Mississippi State is another local school that is really involved.

"It's very similar to Ole Miss. They like his size and how aggressive and physical he plays. They like how he breaks on the balls and plays so physical. They tell him that he plays like a linebacker."

Where is C.J. with his recruitment right now?

"He has a tremendous amount of offers. He recently narrowed it down to ten schools but he's going to narrow it down to five schools at the end of the summer. I really don't think he's going to commit anywhere before the season starts. I think he'll take his official visits this fall and then make a decision. I know that he's really high on Ole Miss, MSU and Clemson. He went to FSU last week and received an offer from them as well. I haven't spoken to him about that trip yet so they could be in the mix as well. He's been on quite a few unofficial visits recently."

C.J.'s parents are going to give him the direction he needs in the recruiting process.

"They are really involved in the process. They are taking him on all of these visits. I know they have taken him to Ole Miss, MSU, Alabama, FSU, Clemson and Louisville. I could be missing some. It's hard to keep up. He's also been up to Memphis where his cousin (Genard Avery) plays."

What makes MSU so attractive?

"I think C.J. is attracted to both instate schools because of the proximity from home. He's one of those kids that I really could see getting away from home, but if he decided to stay instate, I think both instate schools would be attractive for him. State's former defensive back coach, Deshea Townsend, built a good relationship with C.J. and their new coach has continued to build on that relationship. It really comes down to if he wants to stay in Mississippi or venture out. Honestly, I think he's one of those kids that would like to venture off but you never know. His teammate, J.J. Russell, is also committed to State, but I don't think that's going to be much of a factor with C.J., to be honest."

Ole Miss is only 35 miles down the road from Avery's house.

"It's very similar to State but it's even closer to home. He has a strong relationship with their coaches too. Ole Miss got on him quick. I think the thing that stands out about Ole Miss is that he likes their style of play and he's been over there so much that he's built a lot of relationships with their players and several of their top recruits. A lot of those guys have been talking about staying together and going to Ole Miss, but we'll see if he chooses to do that or go out of state and venture on his own. I'm also interested to see how this is going to play out. I do know that he loves how they play defense and is really tight with their coaches."

Clemson made it to the national championship game and that has caught Avery's eye as well.

"I haven't asked him what he likes about Clemson yet, but I would assume the success they are having on the field is playing a big part. He took a visit over there this summer and fell in love with it. Coach Dabo took him around in his golf cart all day and just showed him around. I do know that he really likes coach Dabo a lot. There's something about Clemson that has really grabbed his attention. If he goes out of state they have a great shot of landing him."

Coach Kuhn believes C.J. will have an impact like another safety from Mississippi that stars in the SEC.

"C.J. reminds me of Tony Conner. We played against Tony when he was at South Panola and they play very similar. They both have size and speed. They are both in the 6-foot-2, 200-pound range that can run like a defensive back and hit you like a linebacker. I know that is who C.J. tries to pattern his game after."

Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at yporter@scout.com

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