Freshman Looking to Get Bigger and Better

Freshman defensive end Antonio Coleman says he has made improvements as a player during his redshirt season.

Orlando, Fla.--Antonio Coleman mentioned last summer after he reported to Auburn that he needed to get bigger to play football in the Southeastern Conference.

The freshman defensive end from Williamson High in Mobile can say "mission accomplished" on that front.

"My first goal was to gain a little weight," he says. "I am up to 245 now and I am still moving the way I was. I have gotten a little stronger. Hopefully, I will be on the travel team next year."

Despite being undersized for a defensive end, he performed well in preseason workouts before being assigned to the scout team for his first fall on campus. After the Tigers returned to the practice field in Orlando, he is be one of the players the defensive coaches have been closely watching for signs that he will be a contributor in 2006.

"By next season, I would say that I will be up to 255 to 260," he says. "As my weight has gone up, I have seen changes against some of the guys I am going against. The coaches have seen them, too, so it is going good right now."

Coach Tommy Tuberville challenged Coleman and the other freshmen who were being redshirted to take advantage of the opportunity to get physically ready to be a better football player in Kevin Yoxall's strength and conditioning program. The freshman defensive end says he has made progress.

"It just basically gets you faster and stronger," he says. "It ain't nothing but conditioning and lifting weights. Like Coach Yox says, it is our game on Friday and Saturday. It really helped me out. I got stronger and I gained a little weight.

Antonio Coleman (right) takes on offensive tackle King Dunlap in a one on one drill.

"I am looking forward to trying to get on the field and make some plays," says Coleman, who notes that he weighed just 212 pounds when he arrived on campus last summer.

"I have just been eating a lot and working out," he says. "I was light. I weighed 220 before I started playing basketball last season and I lost eight pounds. I came in and I was getting tossed around and everything. I thought they were going to move me to linebacker, but Coach Tubs said he was going to keep me at end and I needed to put on a little weight. Coach Price (defensive ends coach Terry Price) said he wanted to see me get up to 245 and I am 245 now."

Coleman has shown signs of being a very good pass rusher, which was his strength in high school. He expects to be lined up at weakside end when the Tigers hit the field for spring training to get ready for the 2006 season.

He says that practicing day after day against a pair of senior offensive tackles who could be playing in the NFL next season has really helped. He notes that the big tackles give him pointers from time to time.

"Marcus McNeill, that's tough, and Troy Reddick, he's tough, too," the freshman says. "When I go against them I try to work on my hand placement and everything. It is a good learning experience. Hopefully, next year I will be ready to get out there in the fall."

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