Coleman "Flying Around and Having Fun"

Auburn junior Antonio Coleman talks about his health and getting ready for a new season.

Auburn, Ala.--The 2007 season was a breakout year for Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman. Playing in the shadows of Quentin Groves as a freshman, Coleman came into his own as a sophomore and was one of the main reasons why Auburn's defense was among the best in the country.

Building onto that momentum, Coleman went into spring practice raring to go for new coordinator Paul Rhoads, but it wasn't to be. Injuring his neck, Coleman missed a large portion of the spring and then compounded his health issues with a hamstring problem to start preseason camp. With both now behind him, Coleman says he's anxious to get the season started.

"I'm 110 percent," Coleman contends. "I'm moving around great. My hamstring is fine. There are no problems with the neck. I'm just out there flying around and having fun."

Starting eight games and playing in all 13 contests last sason, Coleman led Auburn with 18 1/2 tackles for a loss and 8 1/2 sacks. He also added 39 tackles and scored one touchdown on a fumble return. Those kinds of numbers by themselves make for a strong weakside defensive end position, but throw in talented sophomore Antoine Carter and Coleman says you've got a dynamic duo.

"He's doing great," Coleman says of Carter. "He's made a big leap from last year. He's gotten much stronger at the point of attack. He's an excellent pass rusher. He's going to help me out a lot with two speedy guys like me and him on the edge. I think he's going to be a big part of the team this year."

Despite his big numbers, Coleman got little attention on preseason all-star teams at defensive end and surprisingly wasn't even one of the top players at his position in the SEC, according to most publications. That's something Coleman says he'll use as motivation this season, but in the end he adds it's all about the final product whether opponents or the media respects him or not.

"I can't tell with the All-SEC Third Team and all that stuff," Coleman says. "I probably won't get that much attention. Anytime I step on the field I'm going to demand that with my athletic ability and the way I play the game.

"I don't buy into that preseason All-SEC and all that stuff," Coleman adds. "You've still got to go out there and win the football game against the Georgias and Tennessees. I figure if I work hard and do what I'm supposed to do and make this team better then I can get something even better. That's a national championship."

Coleman is expected to be one of the top players on the 2008 Auburn team.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Something interesting about Coleman is that he plans to spend Saturday going with the freshmen to Storybook Farms in Opelika to read and play with underprivileged kids from around Lee County instead of taking advantage of his final preseason Saturday off to go home to Mobile. A mandatory trip for the young guys, Coleman says he went several times over the summer and loves to make the trip to Storybook Farms whenever he has time.


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