Coleman Enjoying His Return to Football

After missing the past two seasons, Shon Coleman is enjoying the opportunity to play football again.

Auburn, Ala.--Cancer survivor Shon Coleman said he is thrilled to be playing football again after a two-year absence from competition due to a battle with a form lymphoma that has traditionally had a devastating effect on children and young adults.

"It has been going great," the offensive tackle said when asked how preseason practices are going for him. "I am excited to be back out there. I have just been trying to work hard and do whatever I can to help the team out."

Coleman said that he feels much, much better than he has in a long time. "I think I have gotten stronger, faster and have worked hard enough to try to up all my abilities from high school and all of that."

During spring drills the lineman got the word he would be able to put on the full pads for football this fall. Coach Gene Chizik said that the former high school All-American at Olive Branch, Miss., High School has done everything he was asked to do and even more to get ready to play again.

Chizik said having Coleman on the field and playing football again is "very special" to the Tigers.

"When you sit there and you look at young men going through so many different things in their life, then you look at the adversity he went through, it was an incredible story," the head coach stated.

"He has really worked hard. He was hoping he could go through the full spring and that didn't necessarily pan out. Now, for the first time, he is getting back in pads for the first time in a couple of years. He is trying to knock the dust off.

"He has worked out on his own, he has worked with us," Chizik pointed out. "He has done all of the things he can physically do to prepare for this moment. He has got a long way to go as a football player, but the fact that he is out there and he is involved, and he is getting an opportunity to play football again is amazing to me."

Shon Coleman is shown at Friday's practice.

Coleman played tackle and guard in high school. He was recruited to play tackle at Auburn and that is where he has spent most of his time in practice this preseason. "Coach (Jeff) Grimes has moved me around to other spots when he needs to, but mostly at left tackle," Coleman said.

The Auburn player has benefitted from a new treatment developed by St. Jude's Children Hospital in Memphis. Previously, patients with his form of cancer had a high mortality rate.

Coleman said he appreciates the support he has received from St. Jude as well as his teammates, coaches and from the Auburn fans in general. "They have been a big part--praying for me and supporting me," he said of AU's fan base. "They have really helped me get through and get to where I am right now."

The lineman said not being able to compete in football the last two seasons has made him enjoy the opportunity he has. "Right now I appreciate the game a lot more," he noted. "I don't take it for granted. I just go out there and work my butt off."

Coleman said his goal for the 2012 season is to continue to compete and try to find a way to help his team. "I am going to work as hard as I can," he said.

Asked how he will feel about actually playing in a college game, he said, "It is going to mean a lot. I have been wanting to do that since I signed."

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