It wasn’t what he wanted, but it was something. Coates, a redshirt sophomore from Greenwood, S.C., had to quit football in the preseason after his fourth ACL tear in as many years. The Bulldogs made him the honorary captain for their game against his home state Gamecocks, and he was the player who told the game official Georgia wanted to receive the opening kickoff.
It may seem a tiny detail, but the gesture meant the world to Coates, said his father Anthony Coates, who traveled to Athens along with his wife and Antavious’ two sisters to witness the event.
“It’s a real big deal, a real big deal,” Anthony Coates said. “It means a lot to us, especially to him. These guys mean a lot to him.
All the Coateses wore Anatvious’ No. 17 jersey, as did Georgia defensive end Marcus Howard.
Coates signed with the Bulldogs out of Greenwood High School, where he was considered one of the top safety prospects in the country, in 2005, but he never stepped on the game field. He suffered his first ligament tear before leaving high school and then suffered the same injury (twice to each leg overall) in three straight preseason camps in Athens.
“The main reason he came here was to get a degree of course, but he wanted to be a Bulldog,” Anthony Coates said.
Saturday will help Antavious Coates have some closure to his football career, his father said.
“This kid has worked since he was 5 years old to get to this stage, and then to all of a sudden have someone say you can’t play football anymore, that hurts,” Anthony Coates said.
Antavious Coates will remain at Georgia until he gets his master’s degree and wants to go into coaching, his father said. Coates will remain on scholarship and work with the Bulldogs as a volunteer assistant coach. “I just told him God has got a plan for him, I don’t know what it is right now, but he has a plan,” Anthony Coates said. “It just wasn’t meant for him to play football. Life goes on.”