Coleman Press Conference Transcript

Defensive end Antonio Coleman held a press conference at Williamson High School on Saturday to announce that he would return for his senior season.

Opening statement by Antonio Coleman
"First of all I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity have a chance to make a decision whether to go pro or stay in school. I would like thank all of my coaches–Coach Parrish, Coach Tarbor and all of the guys that coached me in high school who taught me the discipline I needed to be successful on this level.

"I would also like to thank Coach (Will) Muschamp, Coach (Tommy) Tuberville, Coach (James) Willis, Coach (Terry) Price, Coach (Don) Dunn and Coach (Kevin) Yoxall. They've done a lot for me over the last couple of years. I've been grateful to have those guys. I feel real special that Coach Tuberville came down and offered me a scholarship to play for Auburn University, which is very rich in tradition. I'd like to thank those guys, and I'd also like to thank Brother Chette (Williams), who I just talked to before I came to this press conference. I've been praying with him over the last couple of weeks and talking to him about my decision. He just told me to pray and I've been doing that ever since.

"With all due respect–and for the last time I want to thank all of the coaches–but my mind is pretty much made up right now and my decision is that I'm going to return to Auburn University and play my last year of college football.

I talked with Coach (Gene) Chizik. I met with him a couple of times. I went up a couple of days ago and met with him. He instilled a lot of thought and a lot of pride in what he's about to do at Auburn University. I think it's going to be something special. I want to be that guy that helped turn the program around and get us back to where it's supposed to be. Me and Coach Chizik and Coach (Joe) Whitt (Sr.) sat down and talked for about an hour. Every word that came out of Coach Chizik's mouth, I believe. If I come back I'll probably be a first round draft pick if I came back next year.

I'd also like to thank Coach Willis, who got his job back not too long ago, which played a big part of it also. He's a father-figure to me. Anything I go through I talk to him and he has a way for me to get through what I'm going through. I'd like to thank my mom and my family for coming. I know they were going to be happy either way it goes with the decision I make. I just want to thank them for coming. I look forward to playing for the Auburn Tigers next year."

Was there ever a point when you were leaning toward leaving?
"Definitely. There has been a lot of thought coming in and having a new coaching staff. Coach Price is the only coach I've played for at defensive end. I called and talked with him and I talked with Coach Muschamp, who isn't even at Auburn. They just told me to make the best decision for me. None of them told me what to do–to stay or to go out."

Did you have any conversations with Coach Chizik that factored into your decision?
"Definitely. When he first got here I met with him after we had our team meeting. Then he came down (to Mobile) and I met with him then and I went back up and met with him two days ago. I just wanted to get with him, feel him out and see what direction the program is going in. Like I said, I want to be the guy that helps turn this around and get things rolling the right way."

What was your feeling right after Coach Tuberville resigned?
"When Coach Tuberville resigned, I didn't know too much about it. I thought he had gotten fired. That really hurt me. I was thinking about leaving. That's the only coach I've played under in college football and I love him to death. He's like a father-figure. Anything I went through I could go talk to him and he'd make it better. I went and sat down and talked to him a couple of days after it happened. He said if I any advice or if I need anything just come and talk to him and he'll let me know."

How did the NFL evaluations factor into your decision?
"It didn't really play a factor in whether I was going or coming back. I just had my mind made up that it would be best for me to come back and play my senior year. I wanted to go out with a bang and turn this program around. We've got a new coach. It's hard to go undefeated in two season in the SEC or any caliber of D-I football. Coach Chizik did it at Auburn and then he went to Texas and went undefeated. I think that's a blessing, he's a great coach and I'd love to play for him."

What do you think about possibly playing with Terrence (Coleman) next year?
"It's great. I thought he was going to be here sitting beside me, but I guess he's running a little late. It's going to be a blessing. I stayed on him. Even when I was young and he was playing under me I still stayed on him. It'll be great to play with him and Nick Fairley and we've got LaVoyd (James) coming up. It'll feel like a big, happy family with all the Williamson guys. We're trying to make it a Williamson tradition."

Did you talk to Sen'Derrick (Marks) throughout the process at all?
"I talk to Sen'Derrick almost every day. We'll talk and he'll tell me what's going on and I'll tell him what's going on. I didn't really tell him much about what I was going to do. I was leaning toward coming out and that's what I would always tell him. That was what was on the top of my head.

"I just prayed about it, sat down and thought it about, and the best thing for me and my family is that I would come back for another year of football. I've already graduated and I've got a degree, so hopefully I can start on my master's and get more education, and get bigger, stronger and faster. That's what I'm hoping to accomplish."

When you were making the decision did you talk to your family and what did they say?
"It's hard to talk to your family because they're not going to tell you to go or stay. They're going to tell you that it's up to you. Everyone I talked to (said), ‘It's your decision and you've got to make it. We're going to pray for and either way it goes we're going to be here by you.' That's pretty much what they said."

You said you were leaning toward going, when did that change?
"When I found out Tubs had gotten fired that button immediately went off in my head–me, Sen'Derrick and Jerraud. We sat down and talked about it. After Tubs got fired that really pushed the button in my head, but I had to step back and realize that it is a business and there is nothing I can do about it. If I was to leave I don't know who would be my coach in the NFL. I don't know my position coach would be in the NFL or my defensive coordinator.

"I talked with Coach Chizik. He recruited me when I came in and I don't know too much about him, but I think he's a great ball coach and he's a great asset to the Auburn family."

How much did the education mean to you?
"It's so important. The NFL stands for ‘not for long.' I strived to get my books. That's the first thing I would do. They gave me a scholarship to play football, but football is not going to last forever. You've got to have a backup plan. I strived to get that and that's what I'm going to be doing when I get back (to Auburn)."

How excited are you about getting to play with your nephew?
"It played a lot into my decision. We'll sit around and talk and he'll ask me what I'm going to do and I'll say, ‘I don't know.' He's pretty much waiting on me to see what I was going to do before he makes his decision. I told him everything is going to be all right. It's going to be kind of awkward because I feel like the dad and I've got to watch over him and keep him in line. I think it'll be pretty good."

(More on Terrence Coleman...)
"He's a pretty smart kid and he's got his head on right, so it shouldn't be a problem. There might be a problem here or there, but that's with anybody. The main thing I've got to focus on is keeping him in the classroom, getting him to study hall and practice. I'll be showing him how different college is from high school and what you've got to do. Your mom is not there to wake you up. If you don't get up you're in trouble. If you miss class you're in trouble. I think he'll catch onto that real quick."

(To mother Orvia Coleman) What are your thoughts on Antonio returning to school?
"Just like I told him, it was his decision. It was a decision he would have to make. Nobody could make that decision for him. I'm satisfied with what he does no matter which way it goes. I'm proud of whatever."

What do you think about Terrence opening up his commitment?
"I'm going to beat him up. If I came back for my senior year, he's coming up there to play with him. I think he's solid and he'll be up there with me. I think he'll end up playing for the Auburn family. It's something special. When you get a scholarship to Auburn, it's a big family. You've got the Gator Nation and you have all these things, but there is nothing like the Auburn family. It's something special."


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