Never Back Down

The odds have been stacked against <b><a href=>Beau Coleman</a></b> almost from the time he first lined up on a Division I playing field. Critics didn't think he was fast enough, big enough or athletic enough to be a rush end at Iowa State.

The JUCO transfer responded to the naysayers with an impressive junior campaign, racking up 43 tackles and one sack while playing in all 11 regular-season games. However, the 6-foot-1, 239-pounder is facing a new challenge in 2002.

Defensive coaches made the decision to move Coleman across the line to defensive end. And just as he has throughout his college career, Coleman took the challenge head-on. Coleman has 12 tackles and has recorded one sack in each of ISU's first two games.

"Beau is doing a really good job," said ISU head coach Dan McCarney. "He's relentless and has good hands. (The sack he gets against Kansas) he beats the tight end and running back. It's just pure Beau Coleman at its best. It's all-out, relentless effort all the time.

"He's under-sized, too short, not supposed to be a Division I player and there wasn't anybody else knocking down his door when he was recruited. He didn't have a lot of opportunities, but I'm glad to have him on my team. What you see out there on gameday, that's the way he practices Monday through Friday."

But instead of fretting about the scholarship offers he didn't get, Coleman is excited about a new role that has increased his playing time.

"I knew I was a little bit under-sized, but I wanted to do anything to help the team better than rotating on the other side," he said. "I know I have to keep my weight up on that side, but as long as I go hard I can be alright. I was excited to go over there, because I know I can do the job."

Getting pumped for a football game has never been a problem for Coleman, but the chance to play up to 60 plays a game (as opposed to last season's 30) has re-energized him.

"I'm a senior this year and I wanted to play a little more than last year," he said. "Getting the chance to start on that side this year excited me. Being a starter, you're out there, more motivated, play a lot better and get into a better rhythm. All around it's a good move for me."

Judging by Coleman's effort in ISU's first two games, it's safe to say that he's grasping the new position. At least one of his teammates thinks so.

"When you go from playing the open side to playing the end where the tight end is a lot, it's a little bit of a change," said defensive tackle Jordan Carstens. "But I don't think it's really phased him that much. He's a tough kid and works hard every play. I think he's taking it in stride and has worked real well on it."

The biggest change, Coleman said, is who he locks up with in the offensive front.

"It's a big difference, because now I'm lined up on the tight end," he said. "I could be in a five- or seven-technique. I have to address the tight end. If he releases and doesn't want me, then I continue rushing up the field like I would do on the rush end. But if the tight end addresses me I've got to lock up on him and contain my gap.

"On the rush end, it was basically running upfield and closing down. You didn't get a lot of double teams, but now I get a lot more of those and have to hold my ground. It's a little tougher."

It may be a little more difficult for Coleman, but don't look for him to back down anytime soon. McCarney surely isn't.

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