Coleman grew up in Tallahassee wanting to play football at Florida State. Not even a solid senior season at nearby Florida High School, which had been located just beyond Dick Howser Stadium, that resulted in recruiting calls could sway Coleman.
"Schools were looking at me. I could have gone some places – just about any Division II school I wanted to," Coleman said.
"I was going to go to FAMU, but Coach Jeff Bowden called me in my senior year and asked me if I wanted to walk on. Then, when I got accepted to go to Florida State, I figured, ‘Hey, if I'm going to grind, I might as well grind with the team I've always wanted to a part of.' So I came and took my chances here. I knew I could play with these guys."
In fact, Coleman, a 6-foot, 220-pound sophomore, turned out to be a key contributor at fullback for the Seminoles this spring as injuries slowed both Torrance Washington and B.J. Dean. . Coleman was voted the Top Non-Scholarship Player on offense and also earned the unit's Most Improved and Big Hitter Award.
Quite the trifecta.
"It's just a great feeling," Coleman said.
"All you can do is go out and try to compete for a job. We've got great people at the fullback position. I look up to those guys. Last year, not getting much playing time, I just focused on learning the offense, following B.J. Dean and Torrance. This spring, I just came out with the mentality that I'm going to grind it out, to get on the field with those guys."
Coleman and Washington, in fact, are good friends. The two squared off against each other in high school as Washington starred at perennial power Madison County High School. Coleman was a two-way standout at fullback and linebacker for the Seminoles, who used to play their home games at Mike Long Track. The new school – and football field – is located in Tallahassee's Southwood area.
Coleman said it was difficult to see Washington go down with a knee injury, though it provided him ample opportunities to shine.
"Me and Torrance are real good friends – we competed against each other in high school.," Coleman said. "He went to Madison, I went to Florida High, so we were in the same district, played each other. I love him like a brother, and to see him go down was tough. But when he went down, I just had to pick up where we left off. If that happens in the season, there can't be any slack."
Colemam made sure there wasn't any slack this spring.
"I was really surprised that the coaches had so much confidence in me," said Coleman, who played sparingly last season and did not have a carry.
"I've always had the talent, but it felt great that the coaches had so much confidence in me, and to let me run the ball. I knew I had the blocking ability. They knew I was hard-nosed, from last year, but they didn't probably expect this. I didn't even expect myself to play this well, but it just happens sometimes. It's a great gift."
While Coleman could very well end up on scholarship at some point, he understands the key to being a walk-on is confidence and faith. That's why he elected to remain in town to play for the Seminoles. He also doesn't have to look very far for inspiration since walk-ons-made-good are part of FSU folklore.
Last season, former walk-on defensive back Jared Hetzel played in all 13 games and led the team in fumbles recovered (three) and was second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in that category.
"It's a really humbling experience," Coleman said.
"The walk-on's mentality is to have confidence. You come here knowing that you were as good as these other guys in high school, but for whatever reason you didn't get the recognition, or the team you wanted to didn't give you the looks. So maybe you're looked down upon.
"Other guys have those All-World accolades, and you don't have that. A lot of guys let that intimidate them. But I have people like Andre Wadsworth – who's active in the church I attend, Morningstar – he came and talked to me. He was a walk-on, and he became the highest-drafted player in Florida State history. He just told me to keep my head up, and Corey Simon told me to keep my head up, Pete Boulware, Clay Shiver, all these men just looked out for me. Paul Irons gave me scriptures to read, to build my confidence. People just carried me through it. It was never just me. People helped me out a whole lot. If it wasn't for them, I would have crumbled. I know it."