Coleman Eager for Senior Season to Start

Comments from Auburn senior defensive end Antonio Coleman are featured from SEC Media Days.

Hoover, Ala.--Antonio Coleman sat at the podium, straightened his tie, smiled and said "fire away" as he faced reporters from across the state, southeast and nation at the 2009 SEC Media Days on Friday.

The fifth-year senior, who seriously considered going pro before deciding to come back for one more season of college football, obviously enjoyed being in the spotlight and made it clear he is excited about getting back on the field when practice starts on August 5th.

Coleman says Auburn fans can expect to see a multiple defense under the direction of new coordinator Ted Roof. Coleman says that it will include features of the systems he has learned under the previous defensive coaches he played for at Auburn.

"All of those defensive coordinators were different in what they ran," says Coleman, who notes that his experience made it easy for him to learn Roof's system in spring training. "Coach Roof is going to be running a lot of different things."

Coleman says that he likes Roof. "He is kind of laid back, but he knows what he is doing...I am looking forward to getting back out there and playing."

The defensive end is developing a strong relationship with his new position coach, former Auburn star player Tracy Rocker, who moved to Auburn earlier this year from Ole Miss.

"I call him with any problem," says Coleman, who notes the coach and player have developed a "father-son" type of relationship. "I see him every day and I call him to see how he is doing...It's close man, real close."

He says the relationship "feels the same" way as the one he had with former Auburn assistant coach Terry Price. "He (Price) taught me so much, but Coach Rocker has come in and taught me so much also. I can't thank those guys enough for helping me out, just helping me get to where I am today."

In his previous seasons, the Auburn defensive staff worked with Price handling the ends and Don Dunn coaching the tackles and noseguards. Rocker is handling both of those duties for new head coach Gene Chizik, who represented Auburn at SEC Media Days along with tight end Tommy Trott.

"It is working out great," Coleman says. "It feels kind of different. I am used to having two different coaches and was used to splitting up on a whole lot of things, but most of the things we do we focus on the defensive ends and defensive tackles working together, which I think is great.

"Coach Rocker, he knows the game well, he played the game. I think he has the ability to coach both of those positions and having us look real great."

Antonio Coleman is expected to be one of the SEC's top pass rushers this season.

Coleman says it took some adjustment getting used to the new coach, but says he has warmed up to Rocker. "People didn't know what to expect or know what kind of coach he was. When you sit down and talk to him you know he is an up-front guy who doesn't hold anything back. He is going to say what is on his mind. You have to be a man to stand up and take that. Most of the guys on the team respect him for that. He only wants the best for you. He has been through all of it. He has played in the NFL and has won accolades at Auburn. It is nice being coached by a guy who knows about the game so much."

Coleman finished last season as a first team All-SEC player by the league's coaches despite playing at less than full speed most of the year with injuries. He is healthy now, but was named second team on the league's 2009 preseason squad selected by the coaches. "It's crazy," he says. "It really doesn't matter for me. I really don't care too much for that. I just like getting out there playing football and flying around and having fun."

Other notes from Coleman's trip to Hoover include:

*The senior joined Chizik and other Auburn players at an Fellowship of Christian Athletes fundraiser on Thursday night in Birmingham. Former Tiger Reggie Torbor spoke at the event.

*The defensive end says he really likes Chizik and the new coaching staff and says they are building a good bond with the players. Coleman says wide receiver coach Trooper Taylor is a guy who is particularly popular with the players with his very upbeat personality.

*Last year the Tigers were selected to finish first in the SEC West at SEC Media Days. This year the Tigers are picked fifth. "It really doesn't matter to us," Coleman says. "We just have to get out there and play ball."

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