For Adrian Coxson, going to Florida to play receiver was a dream come true.
It ended with a nightmare.
“I got to Florida and was there for the summer but my dad ended up going blind (because of diabetes),” Coxson, who recently had a predraft visit with the Green Bay Packers, recalled of his 2010 training camp with the Gators. “So, I decided to leave there to come back home and take care of my dad for a year. I basically gave up my dream to come back and take care of my dad. Florida was my favorite school, the one I always wanted to go to, the team I always wanted to play for. ...
“It was very hard but it was also very humbling. I took a chance by putting my career on hold to make sure one of my parents was OK. He wasn’t able to see, he wasn’t able to provide, so he needed someone there to help him.”
Coxson, a native of Baltimore, moved close to home to attend Maryland. He sat out the 2010 season to be with his dad, eventually finding in-home care for him in hopes of rekindling his career and finding stardom at his new school. However, the Terrapins fired coach Ralph Friedgen following the 2010 season and replaced him with Randy Edsall. Coxson was essentially forgotten by Edsall, and he finished the 2011 season with just four receptions.
After sitting out in 2010 and barely playing in 2011, Coxson was eager to play. Somewhere. Anywhere. Rather than sit out another season due to NCAA transfer rules by picking a big-time program, he settled on Stony Brook, a FCS-level school located in Stonybrook, N.Y.
Not two seasons of relative inactivity, nor the fact Stony Brook had never produced an NFL draft choice, would deter Coxson’s thinking that he was good enough to make it.
“The NFL has always been my ultimate goal and that’s what I’m shooting toward, being able to get an opportunity at playing for another team and showing everybody that I’m still the player that I was in high school and that went to the University of Florida,” Coxson said of his thinking upon choosing Stony Brook. “Unfortunately, when I went to Stony Brook, it was more of a run offense and a lot of blocking. We only threw the ball when we needed to throw the ball. I feel like I never really got the opportunity to really show what I can do as far as catching the ball and scoring touchdowns. There’s a lot that I haven’t done on the field that I’m capable of doing.”
Coxson’s stats as a senior were nothing special: team-best figures of 43 receptions for 664 yards and six touchdowns. However, considering the Seawolves ran the ball on about 65 percent of the offensive plays last season, Coxson made the most of his opportunities. He accounted for 54.5 percent of the team’s aerial touchdowns and averaged a team-high 15.4 yards per reception.
Coxson was chosen for the College Gridiron Showcase all-star game. Scouts told him they were impressed but thought he was too heavy. A friend knew former NFL receiver Qadry Ismail, who runs Missile Training in Bel Air, Md. One workout became two, and that led to Coxson asking Ismail to become his trainer. Coxson said he dropped 17 pounds for his April 1 pro day.
“He prepared me mentally and physically to be ready for that day, and I went into that day with a chip on my shoulder and I wanted to show everybody what Adrian Coxson can do,” Coxson said.
What Coxson can do is run fast. Very fast. With a Packers scout in attendance, Coxson ran a blazing fast 4.28 and 4.33 in the 40-yard dash with a 34-inch vertical jump and 15 reps on the bench press. His visit to Green Bay was one of five on the docket.
“I was always pretty confident that I would get the opportunity, even if it was as an undrafted free agent, to play in the league,” Coxson said. “Now, I feel like I have an opportunity to actually get drafted. With my workouts that I’ve been doing and my pro day, I’m pretty much putting myself in the right situation.”
Whether he’s drafted or signs as a priority free agent, Coxson said he expects to be emotional when his phone rings on Saturday, May 2. His father won’t be there to enjoy the moment — he passed away at the beginning of this past season. However, Coxson is the father of a 14-month-old boy.
“I think it would mean the world to him,” Coxson said of his dad. “He always preached to work hard and it’s going to happen, no matter how hard of a road it’s been and how long it’s taken me to get to the point where I’m at now.”
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