April 29, 2008

Coffee can play multiple positions

BATON ROUGE, La. - Matt Coffee is a man without a position and it might be a good thing because schools can recruit him to fill a need at running back, linebacker or maybe even another spot.

Coffee, a chiseled 5-foot-10, 215-pound athlete from Fort Walton Beach, said Florida and Florida State are recruiting him and that South Carolina has been on him the hardest.

He has offers from the Gamecocks, Illinois, Ole Miss and NC State. Clemson, Alabama, Auburn and many others are showing interest.

"I've been hearing from South Carolina the most," Coffee said Sunday at the NIKE camp at LSU. "They've been on me the hardest. A bunch of schools are going to come down and watch spring practice."

Different programs are telling Coffee different things. Some want him to play running back. Others think he projects as an outside linebacker.

There are some schools that have told Coffee, who has been timed at 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash, that they might use him at multiple positions until the coaches figure out what works best.

Coffee said he doesn't have a favorite position. He wants to make sure he's making the best college decision and that will mean taking trips this summer to find out where he might fit best.

What has already helped in his recruitment is that Coffee's older brother, Glen, already went through the process so he can get pointers and advice if need be. Glen Coffee, a former three-star prospect who rushed for 1,887 yards and 24 touchdowns at Fort Walton Beach and was ranked as the 29th best running back in the 2005 class, signed with Alabama.

"Some schools say it's whatever I want to play, some schools say they'll figure it out when I get there and some schools want me at outside linebacker and some schools want me at running back," Coffee said. "I'm pretty much open about everything. I just want to go see the schools so I'm going visit the schools this summer."

Clemson and South Carolina are expected to get visits and Coffee said he's already been to a bunch of other schools while traveling with his brother. He said Florida is expected to stop by the school in the next couple weeks.

In his junior season, Coffee finished with 364 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 74 carries. He also caught nine passes for 114 yards and a score and added 55 tackles and an interception.

Rivals.com rates him as the No. 214 prospect in the 2009 class. With so many schools offering so many things, Coffee said his recruitment is wide open.

"I can see myself playing anywhere so I'm open to all the schools," he said.

Other 2009 prospects to watch at Fort Walton Beach include 6-foot-1, 280-pound defensive tackle Akeem Spence and 5-foot-11 cornerback Sean Evans. Last recruiting cycle, Coffee's school produced Troy signee Felton Payton, a wide receiver, and running back Lekenderic Ingram. Payton and Ingram were two-star prospects. Fort Walton Beach starts spring practice on May 1.

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