Coleman played 8 games for 119 snaps (5 tackles) as a true freshman and saw action in all 13 games in 2002 (31 tackles). Last season, he recorded 34 total tackles, including 7 for loss. The Virginia native came to Clemson orginally as an offensive lineman, but was moved to d-tackle after the 4th game of 2001.
Coleman is the only senior defensive tackle on the roster, and he'll be counted on to provide some leadership up front this fall. At 6-foot-5, 305 pounds Coleman he will also have to become the run stopping that Donnell Washington was last season. The defensive ends are a strength of this team, but some work must be done in the interior if the Tigers want build on last year's success in 2004.
Coleman sits ahead of Donnell Clark (a converted linebacker) and Christopher McDuffie on the two-deep depth chart entering his senior season. The rising senior enjoyed a strong spring practice, but the interior defensive line as a whole struggled to consistently stop the run.
The defensive line came together in a big way during the Orange & White game, batting down 7 passes collectively as a unit. Coleman, a rising senior, was responsible for 2 of those. "Coach West always emphasizes that to us. If we are on the line of scrimmage and we can't get anymore pressure on the quarterback, make sure you get your hands up and try and knock down the pass," said Coleman.
"I just feel I need to step up a little more personally," said Coleman this spring. "Overall, I think I had a decent spring, but there's still a lot of room for me to improve. We also improved a lot as a unit this spring and I think we showed what we could do, especially near the end."
"I think we need to find one more tackle inside to feel like we've got enough for a rotation," said defensive coordinator John Lovett of his interior linemen. "And I think that tackle is here on campus already, it's just a matter of he's got to emerge and play every day, because I'm not going to put somebody out there that's not ready to play."
Coleman's production and playing time have increased every year he's been in the program, and 2004 should be no exception. He will be pushed for playing this fall by both McDuffie and Clark, but Coleman has his spot locked down heading into the start of fall practice. Coleman's play in 2004 will go along way in determing how successful this defense can be, as the Tigers' speedy linebackers and secondary play off of the success of the front four.