Coleman ready to exceed expectations

It's been an up and down couple of years for Davon Coleman since he first arrived in Tempe. After transferring from Fort Scott (Ohio) Community College in 2010, he appeared in 13 games at defensive tackle for the Sun Devils as a sophomore, helping supply the defense with some much needed depth along the line and a potent pass rushing threat.

However, following the coaching change that occurred at season's end, Coleman struggled to adjust to the new coaching staff's rigors and increased expectations, derailing much of the progress he made during his first season, at least initially.

Once considered to be a potential starter at defensive tackle, Coleman found his role lessened as the Sun Devils opened the 2012 season. Through the team's first six games, he registered just 15 total tackles and .5 sacks. But rather than allowing his frustrations spoil the potential for a breakout season, Coleman decided to buy in and committed himself to the team's goals and new ideals.

After earning his stripes in practice with a new attitude and a more consistent effort, Coleman once again saw his role grow, both on defense and offense, and was able to overcome a slow start to resemble more of the player Sun Devil fans expected to see when he first transferred to Arizona State.

Over the final seven games of the season, Coleman recorded 51 tackles, including three games of nine or more tackles, and 4.5 sacks. He had a career-high 10 tackles against USC and led the Sun Devils in tackles in its 62-28 drubbing of Navy in the Kraft Fighter Hunger Bowl in December.

For the season, Coleman registered 11 tackles for a loss, the fifth most on the team, making him one of five Sun Devils to record double-digit TFL numbers.

Coleman's strong finish in 2012 carried over into the team's offseason workouts as he continues to position himself for a special senior season.

Last Friday at the conclusion of practice, Head Coach Todd Graham announced the members of The Dirty Dozen, an honor given to the twelve players who demonstrated the greatest commitment to the team's offseason workout regimen with Strength and Conditioning Coach Shawn Griswold.

It came as very little surprise that Coleman was one of the 12 individuals recognized.

"It's been great. I'm probably in the best shape I've ever been in," said Coleman who's officially listed at 276 pounds. "It's definitely been a humbling experience. To be in that top 12, in front of your teammates, and be able to show off what you put in and have it pay off, is great."

Of course, it hasn't just been his efforts in the weight room with Griswold that has helped Coleman lean out and condition for the upcoming season. Over the summer, he and fellow defensive teammate Robert Nelson explored a couple other fitness practices, including hot yoga, which Coleman admits he's quickly warmed up to.

"We started going about three weeks before camp," he said. "We started a little late but I love it. It's like, light weights, and you see the girls doing it fine and then me and Robert are struggling. You're just dripping and tired and they've got you doing so many exercises and stretching. It's really helped.

"It's probably the best workout though, I think. It has me so flexible and now the heat is really like nothing because when you're doing hot yoga, it's really hot in there. During the season, I'm definitely going to keep doing it."

After playing at defensive end, and even fullback, last year, Coleman started fall camp at defensive tackle but has recently shifted back to end. Despite the constant position shuffling, he says he remains comfortable in the schemes regardless of the position.

"It's really not that hard because I've always bounced back and forth from position to position," commented Coleman. "I actually like it a little bit better than defensive tackle because you attack more and you're not really reading and there aren't too many moves. It's just straight and me versus him, so I kind of like it."

"However they want to use me, I'm just here to work. However they need me, I'm down for it."

Of course, being lined up at times with two All-Americans in Jaxon Hood and Will Sutton means that Coleman should get plenty of one-on-one looks this season, which he's excited about because he's also spent a great deal of time perfecting his go-to move on the line that has drawn praise from some of the linemen already in camp.

"I got a nice little shake, or spin move," he admitted with a smile. "I just try to get their weight going one way and then I might shake or spin back the other way. It's pretty awesome, I guess."

This season, Coleman will be playing for his third different defensive line coach in his three years at Arizona State in Jackie Shipp. And while he admits his newest coach has raised the intensity in practice, he's excited for the opportunity to learn and continue to grow.

"He's explosive," said Coleman with a laugh and some hesitation. "He's a hard coach but he's pushing us in the right direction. But yeah, he's definitely a tough coach.

"He holds us accountable for every small thing but it helps us. He's a really hard coach but you can tell that he really cares."

Through the first couple weeks of camp, Coleman still sees most of his practice reps with the second team defense but has his sights set on hopefully becoming a starter before the season begins. For someone who's played in 24 games as a Sun Devil, recorded 108 tackles (16 for a loss) and seven sacks, he says he still feels the pressure to perform at a higher level and hopes to shine in 2013.

"It's just trying to live up to those high expectations," he said. "Just be the best that I can; an All-American. The best player at my position. That's it."

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