NICEVILLE – Success has come often for the Niceville Eagles, but in 15 straight playoff appearances the team has yet to win a state title. Eagles’ rising senior wide receiver Codey Christopher holds the belief that this year will be the year his group takes home the hardware.
At 6’2″, 180 lbs., Christopher spent last season at cornerback after asking to play the position. He earned reps at wide receiver and cornerback as both a freshman and sophomore on JV and is now back to wide receiver heading into his final high school season.
Niceville finished 10-3 in 2015 before falling in the 6A region final, 21-20, to Cantonment Tate.
“Last year’s experience going fairly deep in the playoffs was a great way to see what leaders look like and a good example of how a team is supposed to look,” Christopher told Prep Sports Scouting. “It really gave those of us returning the understanding of what it takes to go even deeper. “
The Eagles have been contenders year in and year out under athletic director/head coach John Hicks, who is entering his 16th season on the sidelines. Hicks owns a 133-46 record all-time which includes two state title appearances (2009, 2013) and a 2014 state semifinal appearance.
Christopher calls it a true blessing to get to play for coach Hicks.
“He’s [Hicks] a coach that is very dedicated to what he does and really makes sure that every position and every player on the team is very serious about what we do. He keeps us focused on our goal to play for a state title…
“He gets the most out of every single athlete that plays for him because every player that makes it on the field respects him and respects the program that he has built. None of us want to disappoint him and that drives us to be our best and give him everything we have.”
Ever since Christopher watched the Eagles go to the state title game in 2013, he’s been thinking about fulfilling his dream of earning that championship.
“We all believe that this is the year we go all the way. As a team, in the beginning, we were not one, we struggled to find out who the leaders were and how since we lost two four-star athletes everybody needed to be on their best game and do things that others teams aren’t willing to do. Basically, we have learned how to get the best from each other and not rely on any one superstar to make the plays for us.”
Christopher says he feeds off the great athletes that he gets to play with each and every year at Niceville.
“Being around them gave me the desire to work hard and put in extra work to reach the level I saw them playing at. When the coaches began putting their confidence in me by giving me opportunities to make plays, my confidence really started to go up. Their belief in me has really increased my belief in myself.”
Starting his football career at age 4, Christopher says his favorite part of the game is creating a brotherhood with the guys and knowing that they have each other’s backs no matter what.
“Football has taught me so many life lessons and in my opinion, is the best sport in the world. There is no other sport that pushes a player so hard and requires them to give so much as an individual and for their teammates.”
When the lights come on during Friday night football, Christopher says he thinks about being as crisp and fundamentally sound as he can be. He admits that playing in front of big crowds at Niceville can get to your head quick, but helping the other 10 guys on his side makes life easier.
As for his biggest strengths in his game, Christopher pointed to his height, competitive drive and dedication to his team. He’s aiming to improve his speed and weight this summer. He wants to get to 190 lbs. by the start of the season.
Christopher has yet to receive that first offer but St. Francis, Bethel, Urbana and other NAIA and Division-II schools are showing interest in him.
He was invited to the Michigan State Rising Stars Camp in East Lansing this summer where he spoke to a recruiting coordinator there. He said the experience was awesome and the facilities there are great.
Christopher has also visited Troy and West Florida and is looking to take a trip to St. Francis later this month.
Playing on the Niceville 7-on-7 team, his group won the Jimbo Fisher FSU Tournament last month and finished as state runner-ups at the Adidas Aero Florida State Tournament prior to that. Christopher had nine touchdowns between the two tournaments.
His biggest role model in his life is his dad.
“He always pushes me to work harder and stay focused. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in today.”
Christopher’s ultimate goal is to earn a scholarship to play the game he’s loved his whole life no matter what level of college ball, he just wants to be able to put on a helmet on Saturday’s.
“I want to be the best team player and a huge asset to getting the ball down the field. Off the field, I want to be a role model and a kid that the community can easily say, ‘We are proud he’s an Eagle'”
Although Christopher hasn’t been able to put much game film on tape, he’s going to be out there often for the perennial state title contenders.
Codey Christopher embraces his role and with a bigger opportunity in front of him this season, he’s going to make things happen. Look for Christopher to have some fun in 2016 and really help Niceville’s offense move the ball.
Favorite player to watch – Braxton Miller
Playlist before games – Metallica, a little Rap
Favorite movies – Remember the Titans, Chasing Mavericks
Favorite TV shows – Friends
Fun fact about you that no one knows – “I talk in my sleep, like real conversations.”
Nickname from his dad – “Bubba”
Game film: Christopher’s Hudl tape
Photo credit: Rivals
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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