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Kolbi Fuqua, who played his senior year with a dislocated shoulder, is ready to prove doubters wrong at Auburn. (AL.com file photo)
Kolbi Fuqua plans on making an early statement in college.
The former Cordova star signed with Auburn in February and reports to the Plains on Monday.
"I think I’ve got a lot to prove," Fuqua told AL.com this week. "Everyone around here has been telling me I’m not going to play there. I just say, ‘watch.’ They didn’t give me a scholarship for no reason. I plan on making a statement."
Fuqua played several positions on both sides of the ball in high school but is expected to land at safety at Auburn. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound standout is working his way back from shoulder surgery last November.
He played every game of his senior year at Cordova with a dislocated shoulder.
"Kolbi is a tough ball player," Cordova coach Jimmy Gay said. "He’s very physical. He’s one of those long, rangy type of guys that doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s gritty. That may be the best word to describe him."
Fuqua made 110 tackles and intercepted three passes for the Blue Devils in 2017. He was a first-team All-State defensive back as a senior and a first-team All-state wide receiver as a junior.
"Kolbi came to us in the 10th grade and was an impact player immediately," Gay said. "He played on both sides of the ball for us, but his biggest impact came on defense. He intercepted a pass on his first play for us. I’ll never forget it. They tried to run a play-action pass and he just reached up with one hand and snagged it out of the air. He just kept getting better from there."
Gay said Fuqua reminds him a little of another former Cordova player who played in the secondary for Auburn, Ryan Smith.
"Ryan started on the 2013 team that played for the national championship," Gay said. "I hope Kolbi has that kind of success. I think he is certainly capable of it."
AL.com caught up with Fuqua this week to talk about overcoming injuries, the recruiting process and his expectations at Auburn.
Kolbi Fuqua dunks against a Hale County player during the state basketball semifinals in 2017. (Mark Almond | email@example.com)
Why did you choose Auburn?
"Everyone says it, but it’s really true. It’s like family there. The coaches told me from the beginning they would stick with me and not forget me. They had a chance to forget about me when I was hurt, but they didn’t. The coaches are good people."
Did you ever consider going to another school after you committed to Auburn?
"No. I never wanted to go anywhere else. When I chose Auburn, it was the fit for me. I love it down there. It reminds me of home."
Now that you are in a few days of reporting, what are your goals for college?
"My first goal is to be organized, get my priorities straight and get a good education. My second goal is to earn my spot. I want to make sure I do everything possible to get on the field as soon as I can."
Do you think that could happen this year?
"I really don’t know. Personally, I think I have a great chance to play early if I go down there, work hard and do what the coaches ask me to do. I’m not afraid to work. I’m not afraid of contact. I like to hit people."
How does your shoulder feel now?
"It’s good. No problems. I may still wear a brace for the first part of my freshman year, but that’s OK. It didn’t hinder me in high school. I can’t wait to get down there and test it out, but I haven’t had any problems so far."
How did you injure it and when?
"It was the end of my junior year, the last game of the regular season (vs. Munford). It was the fourth quarter and I was playing safety. They threw a hook to the outside. Their receiver got past our corner. I came up and tried to make the tackle and my shoulder popped, but I stopped him. I came to the sideline for one play, popped it back in place and went back and finished the game."
How did you play your senior year with the injury?
"No one knew how serious it was when I hurt it. I even played basketball that winter. I was dunking with a dislocated shoulder and everything. My senior year, I never thought much about it. I had a brace on. I wasn’t in agonizing pain when I hit people. It stung a little and I knew it felt different, but it was fine. I had the surgery after the season, and it feels fine now. I’m ready to go."
What’s your best high school memory?
"Probably my sophomore year when we went 13-1. We had so much fun. Really, it’s my best and worst memory because I felt like we had the team to play for a state title, but we played a bad game in the semifinals. We lost 32-0 to Fayette County, a team we beat in the regular season. That hurt."
What do you think about Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn?
"He’s a real cool guy, a good Christian man. Every time I talk with him, we have a laugh or two. He’s a good person."
What about defensive coordinator Kevin Steele?
"I really haven’t had a lot of conversations with him yet, but I like him. He’s got this look that he gives you. It’s kind of intimidating. You never know what he’s going to say. I can’t wait to play for him."
Who was the most memorable coach you met while you were being recruited?
"I’d say coach (Herb) Hand. I had a real good relationship with him, and he’s part of the reason I picked Auburn. He pointed me down the right path. He came to see me and always made me laugh."
Editor’s note: Hand left Auburn this winter to take a position on the Texas staff.
Were you a fan of a certain college team growing up?
"My mom has always been an Auburn fan. My dad has been an Alabama fan. I liked Auburn until I got to middle school, then I kind of liked Alabama. When I got to ninth grade and started being recruited, I liked Clemson a lot. But I settled back on Auburn, and I’m happy I did."
Do you have any regrets about the recruiting process as a whole?
"I enjoyed it. I wish I hadn’t gotten hurt. I feel like I would have had more opportunities. I think a lot of people worried about my shoulder, but Auburn stayed with me and I’m ready to prove everyone else wrong."
Oakland Raiders players sit during the national anthem before they take on the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 24, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)