CLEMSON — Five years ago, Coty Sensabaugh waited until the night before national signing day for a scholarship offer from Clemson.
Saturday afternoon, the Tigers’ cornerback completed his collegiate journey with a triumphant return to his home state.
The Kingsport, Tenn., native was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round of the NFL draft, 115th overall. Sensabaugh said he didn’t have a favorite team growing up, but playing in Nashville will be a thrill.
“It was great news because I’m from Tennessee. It’s just a blessing,” he told reporters. “I’m just happy to be able to participate in the NFL Draft, and being drafted and staying local—I don’t even know, words can’t even describe it. I don’t know what to say.”
Sensabaugh spent only one year as a full-time starter, but it was productive; he had 40 tackles, 13 pass breakups and one interception. By season’s end, opposing quarterbacks were throwing away from his half of the field, the ultimate sign of respect.
“That’s what college football is all about,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. “You take an underdeveloped kid, give him a scholarship and he starts as a (fifth-year senior). He wasn’t even on the NFL’s radar before that.”
He was the fourth Clemson player to be drafted this weekend, joining second-round pick Andre Branch and third-round selections Dwayne Allen and Brandon Thompson.
Sensabaugh enhanced his stock with an impressive NFL scouting combine performance, running the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds.
“He’s got a little something,” Mayock said. “You take this kid, you’ve got one of the better gunners and jammers in the country on special teams. He matches up with a need for Tennessee. They lost Cortland Finnegan, and this kid is going to get a chance.”
Sensabaugh said “knowledge of the game,” not speed, is his best quality. He excels at man coverage, his primary responsibility, but said he also could fit into a zone scheme.
“I just want to come in and continue to help my team win,” he said. “Whatever I can do to help the team win is what I have to do.”
Saturday, he became the second member of his family to join the NFL. Second cousin Gerald Sensabaugh is a Dallas Cowboys cornerback.
“He taught me so much, I don’t even know where to start,” Coty said. “He taught me about the business part, how to be a man in the business, how to go about your business day in and day out, just everything. He’s just a blessing, and I’m happy to have him in my corner.”
Yes, it was an exciting day in the Sensabaugh household.
“I talked to (secondary) coach (Brett) Maxie and like four other people,” he said. “I couldn’t get all the names because everybody in my house was yelling.”