Former Columbia High School RB Brandon Coleman played well enough to earn the North’s Offensive MVP award in the North South All Star Classic last Saturday. Next stop Kent State University.
For me, Brandon’s story is amazing. He has over come some “speed bump’s” along the way. His major bump was more like a cement lane divider. But he got over all of them, including my early evaluations of him.
What I know are my evaluations of him. What I don’t know is why most “Mid American” level schools could not or would not “pull the trigger.” Kent State did, however.
I heard about Brandon during his freshman year of football at Columbia High School. Believe that he played 6 games. Rushed for 790 yards and scored 10 TDs. Good north/south runner, with just okay speed and no 5th gear. Played for a small school program, but with an excellent progressive head football coach, Jason Ward. Just okay competition.
Brandon came to my Underclassmen Showcase after his freshman year. Okay size. Okay speed. Okay effort. But a ton of potential. Again – small school program. At that time – just a guy.
As a 10th grader, he rushed for 1751 yards and scored 25 touchdowns.
Watched him scrimmage going into his junior year. Opponent was small in size and numbers and worst of all – not very good. But even worst of all, he did not play very well. Did not run hard. Did not have a burst on either end, no initial quickness or no 5th gear. Did not break tackles. No “it’ factor. The message got back to him.
Junior year. Tore his ACL and MCL during the season and missed most of the season. Found an excellent surgeon. Rehabbed for 10 months. His advice “trust the process. Don’t over work to get better too soon. But work and endure the discomfort.”
I saw Brandon at a college satellite football camp at Canton McKinley HS. His knee was healed, but I saw just a little favoritism. Just a tiny bit. But he worked really hard and gave good effort. Actually, it was then I started to believe that he would be fine. If not a D2 running back, a possible D1 linebacker, either inside or outside. For Brandon – he was a running back. For me – linebacker.
I did not see him play in person his senior year, but I watched his HUDL Hi-lites. Really a different Brandon Coleman. More physical, more speed, and more size and strength.
As a senior, he rushed for 1578 yards on 124 carries. He scored 23 touchdowns. On defense, he had 62 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 2 picks. More important than stats, Brandon was healthy and getting stronger and stronger.
He has comeback from major knee surgery. The major question an athlete in any sport has – “how will he/she recover from that first major injury or surgery. Even the professional athlete faces this question. Brandon has answered that concern that coaches have. Performance last Saturday should be proof of that.
I received a call back in the fall about Brandon. Ohio State had just offered him a chance to be a preferred walk on. My first response – “Does he want to play college football or be on the sidelines, travel to big games, have mom and dad wear the scarlet and gray, and boast about being a Buckeye? His choice – play college football. No walk on at OSU – Playing college football for Kent State.
Ironic that the first time that I actually talked with him was at my Underclassman Showcase at Massillon. The last time that I will have talked with before college is at Massillon Paul Brown Stadium.
Proof of character – Brandon broke off a 60 run in the 4th quarter, setting up the North’s go-head score. Replays showed that he had scored, but he was ruled out at the three yard line. His comment, “It don’t matter. We scored anyway, and we won, which is the most important thing.”
Brandon Coleman has come a long way. A really long way. I mean, I have seen it first hand. I wish him the very best with the Flashes.