‘Holy s***, who is that kid?’: IU football WR Andison Coby is just getting started

In the weight room at Coral Springs (Florida) High School, Andison Coby quietly went about his business.

As a sophomore who’d recently transferred to the school, football was not yet on his radar. He took a weight training class, taught by head football coach Vinny Ziccardi, and mostly kept to himself.

Ziccardi would write six lifts on the board for the students to work through during the 45-minute period. He said most would get through only a few exercises. On the first day of that normal class routine, Coby approached Ziccardi midway through class asking what else he could do.

Ziccardi reiterated that he’d assigned six lifts.

Coby said he finished them.

Ziccardi couldn’t believe it, and told Coby to show him. And he did.

Ziccardi asked, “Wait, who are you?”

“I’m Andison Coby.”

“No, what grade are you in? Why are you not playing any sports?”

Coby said he transferred to Coral Springs to improve his grades after he struggled academically as a freshman at Monarch High School (around six minutes away).

Later that week, Ziccardi sent his class to play basketball in the gym with another P.E. class instead of lifting weights. He told the other P.E. teacher — also Coral Springs’ JV football coach — to watch Coby, who was shooting around by himself.

“I watched him dunk with ease,” Ziccardi said. “And (the JV coach) goes, ‘Holy s***, who is that kid?’ I’m like, ‘That’s the kid I was talking about!’ I brought my receivers coach in, and he’s like, ‘Why is that kid not playing for us? Is that the kid you were talking about? You didn’t tell me he was an animal.'”

Soon enough, Ziccardi invited Coby to join his team. But Coby was academically ineligible to play sports after his bad freshman grades. Ziccardi said he could join as a practice player, and could then work with the team’s academic coordinator to improve his grades. And that’s how Coby’s football career began.

He had to work hard to get his grades up — Ziccardi said Coby had a lot of ground to make up. But Coby has always kept a positive mindset through tough moments. He didn’t let his classroom performance as a freshman impact his schoolwork as a sophomore and beyond.

“I’ve always had that mentality,” Coby said. “When you don’t keep a positive mentality about things, that’s when things tend to get bad.”

Coby comes from a big family — he has eight siblings, as old as 30 and as young as 10. His oldest brother, Herve, played wide receiver at Bowling Green from 2011-15. Andison played football in the backyard with his siblings and friends growing up, but didn’t play in an organized league. However, he played basketball competitively.

But after he switched to football, he realized it could provide him a greater opportunity. He still loves basketball, and said he had three offers to play in college, but nothing to the extent of where football has taken him.

Herve was thrilled when Andison started playing football. Andison’s relationship with his oldest brother has always been important to him. He sees Herve as a role model.

“I fell in love with the receiver position because of (Herve), and I wanted to be like him. Still to this day, that’s the person I look up to the most,” Coby said. “I just wanted to make him proud. (I saw) the things that he went through, (but didn’t) really understand what he went through until he was able to come back home and pour knowledge into my life.”

Coby practiced with the team at Coral Springs during spring ball as a sophomore, once his grades were in better shape. He then played for Ziccardi as a junior.

He was very raw at that point — a gifted athlete, but with very little background on how to really play football. Ziccardi and his staff gave Coby chances to shine, but looking back, he wishes he gave Coby the ball far more often.

“He was just so new to it. It’s like a baby deer learning how to run,” Ziccardi said “Every day he’s getting better, but (we didn’t know) what his limit was. Some kids you know their potential, you know what their ceiling is. And with him, every day, the ceiling changed because of the way he worked and the type of person he was.”

Ziccardi recalled a play from that season when Coral Springs faced Monarch — Coby’s old school. On a 3rd and 15, the coaches called for a screen pass to either create a manageable fourth down or get better field position for the defense. But Coby had other plans: he juked most of the Monarch defense and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown.

The Coral Springs coaches, through their headsets, both cheered and wondered why they weren’t featuring Coby more prominently. He finished that season with 15 receptions for 315 yards and three touchdowns.

“We felt like we’d let (Coby) down by not using his full potential more because we didn’t know,” Ziccardi said. “Every game was like, ‘What can’t this kid do?'”

Photo via Andison Coby on Instagram

After that year, Ziccardi left Coral Springs to move to Pittsburgh with his family. Before his junior year, Coby turned down other big programs hoping he’d transfer and play for them, out of loyalty to Ziccardi and Coral Springs. Once his coach left, though, he transferred to American Heritage High School around 30 minutes away — where Herve coached wide receivers.

Coby exploded at American Heritage as a senior, posting 884 yards on 56 receptions with seven touchdowns. He was named an Honorable Mention to the Miami Herald’s All-Broward County team.

He played at Northeast Mississippi Junior College in 2020, and put up 422 yards on 24 catches with seven touchdowns. That landed him a Power Five opportunity at Tennessee.

Coby liked his coaches with the Volunteers, but it didn’t go as he’d hoped. He played in five games at UT, with just one catch for five yards.

Coby felt he could find a better opportunity elsewhere, so he entered the transfer portal. Indiana got in touch, and after some conversations with the staff, he was hooked. He loved the culture Tom Allen spoke of, centered around brotherhood.

“Being in a bigger family helped me understand what it means to have a family away from family, as far as the brotherhood, the love part,” Coby said. “The (Indiana) coaches really (welcomed) me with open arms. I felt the love. I felt the family, the culture, what they were trying to build. I just felt wanted.”

Indiana’s newly hired wide receivers coach, Adam Henry, quickly noticed Coby’s speed on tape. Henry talked to Kodi Burns — Coby’s receivers coach at Tennessee who’d moved into the same role with the New Orleans Saints — about the junior, and liked what he heard. Coby announced his commitment on May 1.

Part of what made Coby and the Hoosiers a good match was some similarities between Tennessee’s offensive system and IU’s. That aided his transition to IU.

“Obviously, you’ve got to learn plays and other stuff, but I was pretty comfortable coming in. Learned everything pretty quickly,” Coby said. “At my previous spot, you had to learn things on the fly a little faster than here, but you’ve still got to learn everything fast. I was able to pick that up at a rapid rate because of my previous spot.”

Coby has played in every game for Indiana this season. In the opener against Illinois, however, he had a tough night. Coby dropped both of his targets, and one was intercepted after he tipped it in the air.

Plays like that can be hard, mentally, on receivers. But like always, Coby stayed positive. He promptly moved on to the next play, day, practice, and game.

“I (told) him, ‘We have to make those plays — especially that, because that was an opportunity for a catch and run for a big play,'” Henry said. “And he’s like, ‘Coach, I’m going to get better. I’m going to do better.’ He (was) right back the next day, on Tuesday, ready to go. He’s not deterred when things happen negatively. That’s one of the things I like (about him).”

Since that game, Coby has been even more comfortable at Indiana. He bought in more, and further committed himself to getting even better.

Coby has seen increasing action since week three, when he recorded his first collegiate touchdown against Western Kentucky on his first catch at IU. He hauled in three receptions for 38 yards at Cincinnati the next week.

Indiana needed Coby (and others) to step up last week at Nebraska, with top receivers Cam Camper and D.J. Matthews out. And he responded with a solid performance: five receptions for 54 yards. He made one of IU’s biggest offensive plays of the game on a 21-yard reception late in the second quarter. He broke multiple tackles, and though he came up just short of the goal line, it put IU on the doorstep to tie the game two plays later.

“We always felt like, as long as he’s been here, he has a dimension that we need. We need that explosive play-making ability. He’s one of our fastest guys at receiver. Made some big plays for us on Saturday night.” Allen said. “I’m excited to see him grow in our program.”

As the season continues, every day Coby plays is huge. After picking up the game later than most of his peers, he’s still learning and growing. He knows he still has a long way to go to reach his full capability.

And that’s part of what excites coaches about him. Coby has an athletic skill set, a strong work ethic, a steady mentality, and a lot of potential.

Coby’s come a long way since he raised eyebrows in the weight room at Coral Springs. And he’s still just scratching the surface on the field.

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