Confident Coleman Learned From '07

Being a first-year starter was a learning experience for Kurt Coleman. The safety billed as a playmaker was involved in just one turnover in 2007 but still put together a solid season, getting more comfortable as the year went on. Now Coleman has designs on a big 2008 season.

Kurt Coleman is a confident football player.

The Ohio State safety's position coach, Paul Haynes, says that Coleman is a confident person in general. The player himself, who was a full-time starter for a national title game participant as a sophomore, has a high opinion on just how good he can be – with a caveat.

"Personally I think the sky is the limit," Coleman said. "But if I don't push myself to be the best I can be I'm not going anywhere."

That last part is born partly of his competitor's mentality and partly from the lessons learned during his first year as a starter. Going into the season, the book on Coleman was that the Clayton Northmont grad and Dayton native was a playmaker, a guy who could make big things happen.

Though he had a solid season, starting at strong safety while finishing third on the team with 64 tackles and compiling 3.5 tackles for loss, the big plays largely were lacking. Coleman did not make a single interception and forced one fumble while not recovering any.

For a player who bills himself as a guy who can grab interceptions, the lack of turnovers were frustrating, especially considering how many chances Coleman – and the entire OSU secondary – had go right through the fingertips.

"I dropped a few," he said. "We all know about it. It's something that you can say it, but you have to do it. This year we're harping on it and we're going to go out there and do it."

The lack of big plays came in stark contrast to his early introduction to Ohio State fans. Coleman was a backup cornerback and special teams player who jumped onto the scene by making a big play, blocking a field goal against Bowling Green.

By the time his first year was over, Coleman made nine tackles in 12 games. After enrolling early and going through spring practice, Coleman said that it was a benefit to not take a redshirt despite playing only 25 minutes during the season.

"Personally I loved it," he said of not taking a redshirt. "It was fun to get out there and get game-time experience when we got up by a lot. Some people don't really value that, but I really did. I think it really helped me going into my spring and then the following year."

That leap from part-time player to full-time starter in 2007 was still a bit difficult, though. Coleman made 32 tackles over the team's first seven games but said things didn't really start to make sense on the field until the team's eighth game against Michigan State.

"Everything clicked," he said. "I could make the reads. I made the plays that I needed to make and it was really fun out there."

From there, Coleman saved some of his best games for last. Though the Buckeyes dropped a Senior Day game to Illinois, Coleman was named the team's defensive player of the game. In the national title game against LSU, Coleman made a career-high 10 stops.

Helping him improve throughout the year was a familiar name from the past in Mike Doss. The former Ohio State All-America safety was a phone companion of Coleman's during the season, dispensing tips to help him acclimate to being a starter.

"I talked to him almost every week during the season," Coleman said. "It was cool because he'd watch the game and tell me, ‘Kurt, you need to do this. You need to do that,' and I would try to use it for the next week."

The improvement in Coleman in attitude and play was spied by Haynes.

"He's a confident kid in general, but he had to get in his comfort level a little bit, and once he got in his comfort level he could just go out there and play," Haynes said.

Now with a year under his belt, Coleman's confidence doesn't appear to be on the wane any time soon.

"I'm just real confident," he said. "I feel like it's my spot and I'm just going to keep doing it and get better."

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