Patrons in the library are usually encouraged to be quiet and respectful of others but McMorrough Library on the Goodman Campus was anything but quiet when Holmes freshman defensive lineman Josiah Coatney chose to continue his playing career at Ole Miss next season.
Family members, instructors, teammates, staff members and coaches joined the 6-foot-5 and 290-pound defensive lineman Thursday afternoon in the Mississippi Room to hear where he would continue his playing career. As a freshman at Holmes, Coatney had 46 tackles including 23 solo and 23 assists. He also added 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He also had one fumble recovery for a four-yard touchdown and one interception for a 30-yard touchdown.
"Support makes things a lot easier," Coatney told the crowd. "I thank y'all for sharing this moment with me. I thank God for making this decision for me.
"Most of the time people don't get to sit in this chair where I'm sitting," he said. "I've had to fight my whole life, and God has been there for me. I want to thank my family. Without them I couldn't do anything. All the prayers and concern gave me clarity on what I need to do in my life and where I needed to go. Without my coaches this wouldn't have been possible. I also thank the players for giving me the opportunity to play beside them."
He also thanked the instructors at Holmes. "They gave me a chance," Coatney said. "I want to thank them for giving me a chance to succeed in the classroom and doing the things the right way… the Holms Community College way. They did a great job. Everything they do reflects on how a student athlete should be handled. Holmes did a great job with all that. I appreciate all that."
Coatney reflected on his time at Holmes. "I got to meet a lot of new people and met brothers for the rest of my life," he said. "I'm thankful that I met a lot of mentors. Coach Koonz has been a mentor for me since day one…telling me right from wrong, steering me the right way and giving me guidance.
"I had a lot of fun," he said of Holmes football. "People think junior college is punishment. Junior college is here to get you better. I enjoyed every moment of it. You have to take pride in what you do, and I take pride in being the best football player I can. At the end of the day, I made a lot of great plays because I was coached to make those plays. I hope to keep making the solid plays."
Coatney, who had five schools in mind, had recently narrowed his choice between Ole Miss and Alabama. He wanted to make his choice while finishing up his spring semester at Holmes.
"I feel a sigh of relief," Coatney said. "It's been a long journey. I took it one day at a time. The recruiting gets overwhelming at times, but I thank God and asked God where he saw my destiny. Ole Miss is where I need to be and grow and make a legacy. I take all that in and am thankful."
Coatney has high expectations for his sophomore season at Ole Miss. "I feel like playing time is what you make it," Coatney said. "If you are a baller, you are going to play. I'm coming in to play the first game against Florida State. I feel like if I put the work in, get my knee rehabbed, get stronger and faster, get better technique, I can play against anybody on any level. It's the connection with the place made it the place where I wanted to be."
Why Ole Miss? "I cut it down to two by thinking about four things: player development, coaching staff, atmosphere and education," he explained. "Ole Miss and Alabama displayed all four of those traits. What set them apart is, I just felt my legacy at Ole Miss would take me further." After Ole Miss, he sees himself in the National Football League. "It would take me far," he said. "I feel like that is a path I can really steer myself on."