Coleman Making An Early Impression At Corner

Freshman cornerback Kurt Coleman made a strong showing in Friday's jersey scrimmage. Unofficially, he tallied seven tackles, an interception and two pass break-ups. Prior to the scrimmage, we had a chance to speak with Coleman about enrolling early and his hope to contribute to OSU's success this season.

The crop of incoming freshmen on the 2006 Ohio State football team seems to be a strong one, as evidenced by their play in Friday's jersey scrimmage.

One of the true freshmen who appeared to shine in the scrimmage was cornerback Kurt Coleman, who unofficially tallied seven tackles, two pass break-ups and an interception in the defense's 66-65 win. Coleman, who arrived in time for spring practice, also had an interception in the spring-ending Scarlet and Gray Game back in April.

He came to OSU as one of the plums in the 2006 recruiting class. But he is in a bit of a logjam at cornerback. It appears that senior Antonio Smith, a former walk-on, and sophomore Malcolm Jenkins will be the starters. At Friday's scrimmage, redshirt freshmen Andre Amos and Donald Washington worked a good bit with the second team.

"I feel like I'm here for a reason," Coleman said prior to the scrimmage. "I may not get the reps I'm used to, but I am willing to take my time and learn everything. You have to pick up the game quick or you get burned. I'm learning constantly every day."

Over his final two seasons at Clayton (Ohio) Northmont, Coleman collected 13 interceptions. That includes a whopping 10 as a high school junior.

In the spring game, he made an amazing, twisting interception to basically spear the ball out of the sky. Friday's pick was much easier as he victimized Todd Boeckman when receiver Brian Robiskie slipped on the wet turf and could not make a play on the ball.

"I have always had a knack for the ball ever since I started in the sixth grade," he said. "I feel the ball is mine is mine when it's in the air."

But Coleman decided to pass up the last portion of his senior year at Northmont so he could graduate early and go through spring ball. He recalled what it was like to have that first experience with the Buckeyes.

"It's a ride," he said. "It's a roller coaster. You go through a lot of highs and lows. At first, you can get a little discouraged because it's hard. It's hard on your body and hard mentally. But it's also been a real fun experience."

Coleman said he is better for the experience of coming in early.

"Spring quarter was very quick and very hectic for me," he said. "But now I've got the hang of it. I feel like a veteran on the team. I can just help the rookies who are coming in.

"It helped greatly. I know all the plays now. I can jump in there whenever they need me. If someone goes down, I am ready to step in and fill the role."

So does he feel like a freshman or an upperclassman now?

"I feel like I am an upperclassman," he said. "It is a little bit of both, but mainly an upperclassman just because I know the ins and outs and stuff."

Coleman said that cornerbacks coach Tim Beckman has worked with him and helped him make the transition smoothly to college ball.

"Ever since he's been working with me, he's been trying to walk me through it," Coleman said. "I'm grateful for the way he has walked me through this whole rotation."

Coleman was also impressive in the scrimmage by some big hits on OSU receivers. He knocked the ball away from Robiskie at one point and also made a sure-handed tackle on bullish tailback Chris Wells.

"I feel like I'm very aggressive," said Coleman, who is listed at 5-11, 185 pounds. "I'm not afraid of anyone. I am ready to come up and hit. I think I can bring that to the cornerback position."

With last year's starters, Ashton Youboty and Tyler Everett, gone, the Buckeyes are looking for players to step up at corner. Coleman remains optimistic he'll get a shot to show what he can do.

"I feel like I can push my way into the rotation," he said. "Our defensive backs are really great. If I'm not ready for the job, then I know somebody else would be better. I feel like I can work my way into it.

"We lost a lot of great guys, but I think we have a lot of talented guys coming up. We're ready to show people what we can do."

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