Published 12/18/2012 in Sports
By ADAM HOLT
Rod Coleman helped turn around a football program in Garden City. Now, he's hoping he can do the same in Lawrence.
Brad Nading/Telegram Garden City Community College’s Rodriguez Coleman, left, has the ball slip out of his fingertips on a pass play but picks up an interference call on Hutchinson defensive back Christian Goodlett in September at Memorial Stadium. Coleman committed verbally to play at the University of Kansas next season.
Coleman, a redshirt freshman wide receiver for the Garden City Community College football team this past season, made a verbal commitment to the University of Kansas on Friday.
All it took was an official visit to hook Coleman on the Jayhawks, as he chose KU over Kansas State, Indiana and Pittsburgh.
"When I took my official visit there, it felt like home the first day I went," Coleman said in a phone interview. "They was showing me around, showing me all the places — plus, I fell in love with Allen Fieldhouse at the basketball game. They made it feel like home, welcomed me as soon as I got out of the car."
Coleman is one of a large group of junior college players KU coach Charlie Weis has gotten commitments from, 16 in all. The Jayhawks also have commitments from fellow KJCCC players like Fort Scott's Kevin Short, a first-team NJCAA All-American defensive back, and defensive back Dexter McDonald of Butler.
"I always wanted to play for Charlie Weis," Coleman said. "I knew first of all, he was at KU. I've been a Patriots fan all my life, and I had seen him when he was with the Patriots. And then when he went to Notre Dame — I also followed Michael Floyd, and I've seen what he produced out of Michael Floyd, and what he made Michael Floyd. So I felt he could do the same with me."
Floyd was a first-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals, out of Notre Dame, back in April. Both Floyd and Coleman are big receivers at 6-foot-3 and in the 200-plus pounds range.
GCCC head coach Jeff Tatum said he sees NFL potential in Coleman. The Cincinnati-native has the size, good hands and underrated speed.
"A guy that's tall like that, when they're running, they don't look like they're running that fast because they have such long strides," Tatum said. "Coach (Matt) Miller's done a great job with him, teaching him to run routes. I really feel like he's a complete wide receiver, and he should have a chance to go into KU next season and if not win a starting job, at least to be able to compete for it, and be able to get on the field and help them to win football games."
Coleman was a first-team All-KJCCC selection this season, and had 69 catches for 1,072 yards and seven touchdowns. Coleman also had an incredible catch with less than a minute to play in Garden City's Mississippi Bowl win over Copiah-Lincoln that helped set up the game-winning field goal.
Tatum said the only blemish with Coleman is one that most junior college players share: giving consistent effort.
"Just playing hard every snap," Tatum said. "That's, a lot of times, that's one of the knocks on all junior college football players is they don't know how to play hard on every snap. But I believe with the type of coaching staff they have there, they can make him into a complete football player."
Coleman originally signed with the University of Cincinnati out of La Salle High School (Ohio) in 2011, but was not ruled eligible by the NCAA clearinghouse. He then came to GCCC, where he redshirted in 2011 and used a big 2012 to regain interest from Division I schools.
Coleman said he'll sign his letter-of-intent in early February, around national signing day. He will have three years of eligibility remaining at KU.
After helping the Busters go from 2-7 to a ranked 7-4, bowl-champion team, he said he's ready to help get the Jayhawks back on track.
"I come in with the mindset to give it my all, each and every day of practice on the field, and to help my team win," Coleman said. "Here at Garden, me and my boy Nick Marshall talked when the season first kicked off about how we was gonna change the program around, what we're gonna do in order for the program to get changed around; how we've got to become leaders. I feel like that's what I'm gonna have to do when I'm at KU, perform well and be a leader."
Notes: Tatum said a number of other Busters have made commitments to four-year schools, and a few others will settle on decisions by Wednesday. Check The Telegram later in the week for a full breakdown.
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