Posted: 8:00 a.m. Thursday, July 18, 2013
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va
High School: Bayside HS
Year: RS Junior
Henry Coley was a 3-star LB out of Virginia Beach, and was ranked as the #40 MLB in the nation by Scout and #47 (ILB) by ESPN. He had offers from a handful of ACC schools as well as Louisville, Temple and Navy.
During his first couple of years, Coley was behind Steve Greer. Greer was a team leader and a very good MLB, so there wasn't much playing time to be had there. Coley saw action in 5 games during 2011, missing some time with a leg injury. Most of his time was on special teams along with some time backing up Greer. And then, with Steve Greer out with an injury, Coley made his first career start in the Chick-Fil-A bowl. He played well, considering he was thrust into the starting lineup against a powerhouse SEC team, and finished with 4 tackles. For that season, he had 15 tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and a sack.
Last year, Coley actually began the season as the starter at OLB opposite LaRoy Reynolds. Playing out of position, and often coming off the field in passing situations, Coley performed very well, finishing the season with 40 tackles and 4.5 TFLs. He missed the last 4 games of the season and ceded the starting position to DaQuan Romero.
With Romero attenuating himself well at OLB, and with highly touted MLB Kwontie Moore in the fold, many people though Coley's days as the starter were over. However, Coley refuses to back down and has played so well that he's the starter at MLB. Coley, for sure, has the right tools for a MLB. At 240 pounds, he's a good 4.6 guy and has tons of upper body strength. He can take on a block from a big interior OL and use his strength and his hands to shed and make plays. He's got enough speed to allow coach Tenuta to be aggressive with his outside LBs, knowing that Coley will cover for them.
Coley isn't exactly a sideline-to-sideline MLB, but it's been quite some time since the Hoos have had that type of player. Coley excels when making quick reads and playing downhill to the ball. Coley also has very little experience in pass coverage, so there is still a good chance he comes off the field in passing situations. He may be spelled by an extra DB or by Moore, depending on Moore's ability to play a shallow zone.
Moore will see time at MLB this year, one way or the other. Whether there is a true time share going on or if Moore ends up seeing mostly garbage time action will likely depend largely on Coley's play and his health.
Coley doesn't have a lot of time at MLB at this level, so there may still be a learning curve for him, while his instincts catch up with his playing speed. His biggest problem, so far, has been staying on the field. If he can put together a full season at MLB without missing significant time, there's no reason he can't be as good as Greer, or even better.