Charles Coggins


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Getting attention from NFL coaches was a snap

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services

Charlie Coggins ’14 ’15, who was the long snapper on the East Carolina University football team the past three seasons, says he’s a bit sheepish about all the attention he received over his ingenious plan to wrangle a tryout with an NFL squad.
Charlie Coggins

“I mean, my undergraduate degree is in marketing, and at the time I was working on my MBA, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that I came up with a way to market myself (to NFL coaches),” he says.

“I just tried to find a way to stand out in a crowd, and it worked.” 

Coggins needed a gimmick to get noticed because, even at 230 pounds, he is considered small for a long snapper in pro football. Coming out of Albemarle High School, he wasn’t recruited by a Division I school. He arrived at ECU as a walk-on.

But Coggins was an excellent student. He was selected for the all-conference academic honor roll his sophomore year when he compiled a 3.75 GPA. He was on the Dean’s List and the Chancellor’s List regularly throughout his college years.

Charlie Coggins gained the attention of NFL coaches by leaving purple and gold koozies in areas where the coaches might find them.
He redshirted his freshman year, which he says allowed him to focus on his studies. He finished his marketing degree with one year of eligibility remaining and immediately entered graduate school.

Coggins says he wasn’t surprised when he was not invited to demonstrate his skills at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February. The event is where NFL coaches size up talented players coming out of college to decide which ones they will draft.

Coggins says one of his friends was planning to go to the combine and invited him to tag along. That’s when Coggins began to put his marketing degree to good use.

He asked another friend what coaches like to do when they’re not watching pro football wannabes demonstrate their skills.

"He said they like to drink beer."

So Coggins had a batch of beer koozies made with his name and playing statistics printed on the side. He put a business card inside each koozie.

Once in Indianapolis, he handed out the koozies to people passing through the convention center lobby. He learned that a bar beside the hotel was where many coaches went for a cold one, so he walked into the men’s room of the bar and left several koozies on the counter.

A reporter covering the combine spotted the koozies in a matter of minutes. The reporter snapped a picture of them and posted it on social media. Coggins’ ploy went viral.
Marketing Ploy #1

The beer koozies weren’t Coggins’ first marketing ploy. Last year he and two other ECU football players came up with an idea for getting on ESPN

Coggins and the players who composed the Pirates’ field goal unit attempted a 50-yard field goal while the kicker was blindfolded.

The successful three-pointer made it on the air as one of the network’s top-10 plays of the day:

“About 20 minutes later, I saw it on Twitter, and it was blowing up," he recalls.

Carolina Panthers Coach Ron Rivera saw the koozies, which led to an introduction, which led to an invitation for Coggins to attend the Panthers’ rookie tryout camp in May.

He was one of about 35 undrafted free agents invited to the camp. After a long weekend of drills, 10 were offered contracts. Coggins was not one of the lucky ones.

“It was a great experience being in minicamp, but I knew going in they weren’t interested in getting a new long snapper because the guy they have (on the team) is one of the best in the league. But as a result, I know if something were to happen to him — God forbid — I am on the short list of people they will call.”

Coggins says he hasn’t been sitting by the phone waiting for that call. He started job hunting in the Charlotte area soon after receiving his master’s degree at spring graduation exercises.

“I’m still hopeful of playing this season, but my backup plan is to find a job in or near Charlotte. My interest is in marketing and supply chain management. But I’m open to all options. I’m definitely maintaining a workout routine and keeping in shape if a call does come.”

He knows it may take a while. “Wilson Raynor was the long snapper (on the ECU football team) before me. He got a call (from the New York Jets) two years after he graduated (in 2009). So I just have to be patient and be ready.”

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