Senior Defensive End Welcomes the Chance to Make Plays as Outside Linebacker

No, he does not care for snakes. But no, Will Coleman doesn’t mind playing a position named for one.

In fact, as soon as the ‘viper’ job was presented to him “I thought it was pretty good. Not to be selfish, but I think it was kind of the best situation for me with my size and athleticism.”

Being a viper really should suit Coleman, and allow him to expand his senior season duties too. The position is part of the still-developing system being installed by new Bulldog defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon, in conjunction with line coach Brian Baker.

Who just happen to be Coleman’s own coaches. That’s right, plural. Though, “Coach Sirmon is my primary coach,” Coleman said. “For film and meetings. I only go to the d-line in pass rush (drills).”

Still it is a dual existence for Coleman, and one he definitely welcomes. Not that he could not have been a contributor staying at end in the four-front Mississippi State will still use; or as a tackle-type in the three-lineman set.

But viper-ing turns him into a long, tall, and agile Dog coming from outside the offensive line. Way outside, judging by the first two days of spring practicing.

“I think it’s more of an outside linebacker,” Coleman said. “I’m playing contain to help all the other linebackers and the fellows inside. So I’m mainly the guy setting the edge most of the time.”

That’s when the football is handed off or the play rolls the other way, that is. If it’s a dropback pass? Watch the viper strike, lined up too far away for a tackle to pick up quickly. So far Coleman, or the other vipers, have more often than not worked from the right side of the defense, the offense’s back-side for right-handed passers that is.

But he can also go to the other end just as easily. “I like it a lot. It lets me move around in the defense and use my speed to help the team.”

Coleman also thinks this move was somewhat dictated by physique. At 6-5 and 240 or so pounds, he can play a true defensive end. He did it all 13 games in rotation last year after all.

But a three-front means more and bigger bodies are available to play this sort of tackle/end role. Taking those steps to the outside allows Coleman to stay upright, no hand in the dirt, and either fire of the line into the backfield or instantly backpedal as needed.

“It adds a lot of versatility.” The position has versatility too in personnel. Redshirt junior linebacker Trevor Jung and redshirt defensive end Anfernee Mullins are both working at viper now, and all bring strengths to the spot.

Coleman and corps will continue developing through spring along with the new position they play. What won’t change from 2015 is a fundamental aggressiveness by the front and linebackers regardless of set. Actually, that should increase, Coleman said.

Mainly, “It probably shows we can bring more versatility to the scheme.”

Besides, the label is pretty aggressive, too. Right?

“I don’t like snakes. But I like the position.”

Visit Will Coleman's Profile page.


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