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Friday, March 8, 2013
Uncovering Georgia's sleepers: Defense

By Kipp Adams

With the acceleration of the recruiting process, not having an offer in March can lead to panic for some prospects. In part one of a six-part series, Recruiting Nation will feature five defensive players in Georgia who have yet to pick up an offer from a FBS (formerly known as Division 1A) program.

While there is no way to know just how the process will unfold for these recruits, their talent suggests that interest will continue to grow as more colleges evaluate them on film and in person.

Josiah Coatney (Douglasville, Ga./Chapel Hill), DL, 6-foot-4, 265 pounds

 Josiah Coatney and Donquell Green
Josiah Coatney (8), pictured in the 2013 AT&T Georgia Junior Bowl, believes offers are close.
Playing part of the season at nose guard and part at defensive end, Coatney ended up with 54 tackles and 9.5 sacks while missing one game.

Schools like Florida State, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Notre Dame are showing Coatney interest, but none have pulled the trigger on offering just yet. After transferring from Douglas County, Coatney feels he is close to earning scholarship offers.

“Schools want to make sure I can get my credits that I need after switching schools,” Coatney said. “They all say they love me on film so I am working on that now and once I get that taken care of a lot of schools say they will offer.”

Taariq Shabazz (Kennesaw, Ga./Kennesaw Mountain), DE, 6-4, 240

First-year coach Andy Scott knows he has a big-time prospect on his hands in Shabazz, who made 55 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season. After sending out Shabazz's film to coaches across the country, Cal, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt have shown interest in the last two weeks.

“I have coached some really good players that have played at the highest level, including Casey Hayward who now plays for the Green Bay Packers, and Shabazz is as good as any of them,” Scott said. “He benches 375, squats 465, power cleans 335, has a 3.4 core GPA.

Scott feels the first offer could come from Georgia Tech, where former Kennesaw Mountain standout Jay Finch is a fifth-year senior with 28 starts along the offensive line. Once they see him in person, Scott thinks it will be big for both Shabaaz and the Mustangs program.

“We are trying to build a program, and the best thing about Shabaaz is that he is such a leader,” Scott said. “He is always encouraging and coaching up his teammates, and he understands his ability to be seen and recognized is going to open up opportunities for others to be seen. He doesn’t just look at this as his chance to do something special, he looks at it as having a chance to do something special and open doors for others, so I think that shows a lot about his character.”

Dru Moody (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge), LB/S, 6-1, 190

After starting half of his sophomore season, Moody started every game as a junior, recording 72 tackles, 46 solo tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two blocked punts. Schools like NC State, Troy, Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee recently have started showing interest, according to Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood.

“Since I put his film out, Moody has some people really interested in him, and he is on the cusp of that first offer,” Fleetwood said. “He is a good athlete with good hands that can really run. He will probably be around 6-foot-2, 225 pounds when he is done growing. He is still under the radar and still maturing, so his upside is really high.”

Brandon Coney (Dublin, Ga./Dublin), CB, 5-11, 183 pounds

Between Coney's freshman and sophomore year, Dublin coach Roger Holmes took him to Tennessee’s football camp. According to Holmes, they clocked Coney electronically at 4.49 in the 40-yard dash with a 36-inch vertical. After a solid sophomore season, Coney missed three games last fall with a dislocated thumb, and the team struggled to a 2-8 record. Schools like Tennessee and Georgia are showing interest, which his coach says will intensify once the programs get him on campus soon.

“Once he camps this summer, he should walk away with offers,” Holmes said.

Tavon Ross (Cochran, Ga./Bleckley Co.), ATH, 6-2, 195

Over the last two years, Ross has done a little bit of everything for Bleckley County. He has more than 1,380 yards passing and 16 passing touchdowns, 1,700 rushing yards with 28 rushing touchdowns, and he has made several key tackles, as well. So far, Ross has flown under the radar, with only one program showing serious interest.

Dublin coach Holmes' team has faced Ross, and former Dublin assistant Tracy White took over the Bleckley program last year. He knows what Ross can do.

“He is a Division I kid, and he has a chance to be a great one,” Holmes said. “I know Georgia likes him, and they had him on campus recently.”

Lamar County head coach Franklin Stephens put double-digit players into major college programs during his five years as head coach at Tucker High School, including Kansas City Chiefs safety Neiko Thorpe, Stanford linebacker James Vaughters and University of Georgia linebacker Josh Dawson. He feels Ross has a chance, as well.

“I thought he was pretty good against us last year,” Stephens said. “He is a big athletic kid. I am not sure what he is on next level, maybe a weakside linebacker in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in 3-4, or maybe even a nickel guy.”