To begin this interview I thought it would be appropriate to include an excerpt from an email that I received from the Editor and Publisher of GamecockInsider.com, Russ Perry, about DeAdrian Coley. For those of us that have been following the Internet for any length of time we all know how big Rusty has been on DeAdrian ... since his sophomore year in high school. This is what Rusty wrote to me several days ago as I was preparing to do the interview.
DeAdrian is the quintessential SEC linebacker. When he was a kid going about 150 pounds I saw him play for the first time and his natural skills stood out to me and made me an instant fan. By the time he was a senior I thought he was the best linebacker in the state of South Carolina. The thing about that is that DeAdrian's senior season in high school Roger McIntosh and Marcus Lawrence were in that class and I saw them all play a couple of times that year. DeAdrian was the purest linebacker of the bunch. He is all business when he dons the pads and that's what I really like about him the most. He is always hawking the ball and always around the action. I was glad to see Dee named the Defensive Player of the Year at Georgia Military. He deserved it and again I think it says something about Dee being named the Player of the Year on the best JuCo defense in the country. Gamecock fans are going to be shocked to see how good he really is - give him time to adjust and then stand back and prepare to watch the fireworks.
DeAdrian Coley, Linebacker. 2 to play 2. 6-3, 240, 4.5 forty. Bench 335, squat 465.
What are your best attributes as a football player?
"My speed and awareness on the field once the ball is snapped. I feel like I have good instincts to get to the ball and prevent big gains. I like to know what's going on on the other side of the football all the time. I have to know what the other team is doing if I am going to make plays, I've learned that in the past two years. So I watch a lot of film to help me prepare to beat my opponents. I study their game and then go with my instincts."
Talk about the entire process of being recruited by USC from two years ago to now.
"When I first came out of high school they were rebuilding and I knew I could get in there and help them accomplish their goals. I felt like I could qualify and I felt like back then I could come in and play early. Even then, two years ago when they were recruiting me, they were like a family around there and I really liked that.
But now things have changed a little while they are still basically the same. What I mean by that is that I've gotten bigger in the last two years, I'm stonger and faster and more disciplined. And most of all I am a better football player and a better person for what I have worked to accomplish these past two years. But at the same time South Carolina is a better team these days. We are not rebuilding anymore. So we've kind of grown together. I still plan on going in there and making a major impact and contributing to this season. Just now I am more realistic and I understand what kind of dedication and work it takes to be a great football player."
What about ... who recruited you?
"Coach Cosh recruited me at Carvers Bay when he was the linebacker coach. Now he is the defensive coordinator and I am happy about that because he has always been my guy. But then Coach Roberts stood in and took over once I got down here to Georgia Military. And let me tell you something about those two - they always stayed in touch with me and they never gave up on me so I never gave up on them and I never will. That's why when you saw a lot of people going back and forth between this and that I wasn't one of them. I stuck with Coach Cosh and Coach Roberts because they stuck with me and I can't wait to get up there and have them as my coaches."
Who came after you and tried to recruit you away from South Carolina?
"There were some coaches that tried but they knew they were wasting their time pretty quick. Everybody stayed away toward the end because they knew I was committed to South Carolina and I wasn't ever going to change my mind. I had my coaches down here tell them that too - to keep them away from me and let me focus. I didn't want to waste their time or my time with them bothering me and recruiting me when I always knew I never wanted to be anything but a Gamecock linebacker."
Talk about that. Rusty says you are the one to watch. He says you are a pure linebacker and that you love your position.
"(he laughs) Yes sir. It's the best position on the field. I don't know what to tell you. I mean for me it is something that I love to do. I get to stand up back there and view what's going on all over the field and then I get to hit people. I mean for us linebackers we are really in control of our own destiny on the field. We have rules to follow but our main job is to hit people, people that have the ball in their hands you know what I mean? I mean I don't know exactly how to put it other than for me it is a position I love and I am thankful that it is my position."
Do you have any idea which linebacker position the coaches intend for you to play?
"I think they are going to try me at both middle and outside at first. I don't really know yet, we have talked about that, I am prepared to go either way. It really doesn't matter to me because I just like playing linebacker so as long as I am playing linebacker in the SEC ... I don't care if they put me on the inside or outside I'm still going to be hitting people. Whatever they feel is best for the team I'll do it. Just let me play linebacker and turn me loose on somebody with the ball."
Have you heard about the new defense that is planned?
"Both Coach Cosh and Coach Roberts talked to me about what we are planning to do as far as switching from the 3-5-3 to the 4-3 and all that. I'll tell you I like it a lot and here's why ... because we can go out and have the option to do a lot of things out of the 4-3, but then if we want to we can switch real quick on a team and mess their heads up ... they won't even know what's going on. Let me explain that. You see all of us down here have been running the 3-5-3 and so have they up there. Now we are going to go to the 4-3 and that's great because from what I hear we are loaded-up on the defensive line. But since we all know the 3-5-3 and have it down real good, we'll be able to change-up in a second to the 3-5-3 if we want and that is something other teams are going to have a hard time adjusting to midway through a game. They will have no idea what to expect from us and that gives us the edge."
And you know a lot of the guys on the team already right?
"I know mostly all of them on that team already. I mean I met most of them when I was on my first recruiting trip up there a couple of years ago. And then you add Corey and Jermaine and Randy ... I played with them down here. So I know just about everyone on that team already and am good friends with most of them already."
So having played with some of the players in the old 3-5-3 defense will help you when you arrive?
"I've played with Corey Peoples, Randy Jackson, Jermaine Harris and Charles Silas. Plus I know everyone on that team from (the state of) South Carolina. I've gotten to know some of the other guys from Georgia on all my trips up there but I know all of the older guys from South Carolina real well. They are all friends of mine. We all know and trust each other like brothers already. Like I said before. That's one of the reasons I never waivered on South Carolina ever. Because that team is already like a second family to me. They are my brothers."
Talk about your first family. Are your Mom and Dad excited about you coming back to Columbia?
"Mom and Dad are real happy about me going to South Carolina and they are looking forward to coming and seeing me play and all that. You know I'm the first one in my family to do something like this, to be given a chance to do somethinig really good like playing colllege ball and getting a big time college education like this so my mother and father are real proud. I've got an older brother in the military who we are all real proud of too. And I have a younger sister who we are proud of too."
How are your grades? Any problems there?
"I'm good grade wise. I have all Bs and Cs, mostly Bs, and I am shooting for a few As too. But I am good to go and tell everyone up there that I am qualified and nothing will hold me back now. I've been working hard and waiting patiently for two years and now my time is about to come."
What are your impressions of Coach Holtz?
"Coach Holtz is a straight forward guy. He's the kind of guy that'll shoot straight and tell you what he expects out of you and if you don't get it done you'll have to deal with him. That's fine by me. I want to be treated like a man ... don't treat me like a child. He's a real good guy and as long as I do what I am supposed to do and follow instructions I think Coach Holtz and I will always be friends and he'll have no problems from me or with me. I am honored to be playing for him and for the rest of the coaches up there. I'm honored to be playing for Gamecock fans to tell you the truth. I just feel real lucky to be where I am in life. I could not be happier or more excited about my future."
Back to football. You love being a linebacker ... what do you think about some of the other linebackers you'll be playing beside?
"Well I know just about all of them and they are all good. I played against Marcus Lawrence and I know how good he is. Plus I know Ricardo real well because I played with his brother Ricky here at Georgia Military. I know Jeremiah and Lance. I know we can be the best group of linebackers in the SEC. If we will only go out there and do what we have to do we can be the best group of linebackers in the conference I have no doubt in my mind about that."
You gotta a nickname DeAdrian?
"People call me Dee Cee or just plain old 'Dee'."
Are you planning on reporting early and working out with the team this summer?
"Yes sir. I'm going to come in early. I'll be there the second week in June to start working out with some of the other guys that are already up there."
Are you keeping yourself in shape?
"I am working on Coach Moorer's workout right now. That's where I am calling you from ... the weight room. As a matter of fact I have to get back to work ... but before I go are there going to be a lot of fans reading this?
Yes there will be.
"Can I say something to them, kind of send them a message?"
"I'm coming up for the spring game. I'll be there cheering just like everyone else will be. And I am looking forward to playing in front a big Gamecock crowd like I know there will be with our fans for all the games next season. I think we have the best fans anywhere and that's one of the reasons I stuck with South Carolina. I want to get out there and see what we can do this year and I am going to give it my all. I can't wait"
Neither can we Dee Cee. We'll see you at the spring game.
"Yes sir. See you there and Go Cocks!"