Coleman's Return Happy, Appreciated

Ohio State might not have missed Kurt Coleman terribly, but the Buckeyes sure were glad to have him back during a 31-13 home victory over Wisconsin last Saturday. He made 14 tackles to finish tied with Brian Rolle for second on the team, but his impact was even greater than the numbers reflect.

Ohio State might not have missed Kurt Coleman terribly during a 33-14 win at Indiana on Oct. 3, but the Buckeyes sure were glad to have him back a week later. During a 31-13 home victory over Wisconsin last Saturday, Coleman made 14 tackles to finish tied with Brian Rolle for second on the team, but his impact was even greater than the numbers reflect.

"I think Kurt Coleman was very a productive, good leader out there who got us lined up," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday while handing out team awards. "Wisconsin gives you a million formations. They motion and shift, and he does a good job in the back end making sure that we adjust very well, and plus he makes plays, and so he was the defensive player of the week."

Coleman did not waste much time in resuming his bid for first-team All-Big Ten honors.

The safety, a senior captain who sat out the Buckeyes' win over the Hoosiers while serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit a week before that against Illinois, reminded everyone in attendance he has a knack for making big plays as he intercepted a pass then rambled 89 yards down the home sideline for the first touchdown of the day.

Although he showed some good wheels in turning the corner on pursuit from Badger offensive players, Coleman downplayed his own role in the momentum-turning play.

"The interception, it really started with the D-line," he said. "I knew they had a great rush which is why they kind of forced the high throw on the wide receiver, and it was just an easy pick for me. I just was standing right there, happened to be in the right spot, and I had great blockers. My team led me all the way down the field. I did the easy part - they did all the work, so I give all the credit to them."

While it is true Badger quarterback Scott Tolzien's throw sailed on him after he absorbed a hit from Buckeyes Austin Spitler and Doug Worthington, not anyone could have made everything else happen, and not every player has the same habit of being in the right place at the right time, as Coleman seems to.

His teammates said his modesty was genuine, though.

"Kurt is very humble," Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan said. "He's a great leader for us. It was great to have him back. He's a great player and even a better leader for us."

Defensive end Thaddeus Gibson confirmed Coleman's return was welcome, even on a defense with as many talented players as Ohio State's.

"He's a great piece of our defense, and we need him," Gibson said. "He's a senior captain, and we need every piece to this puzzle to get the job done.

"Kurt is a great guy. He's a great captain and he's going to give credit when it's do. We appreciate Kurt for being back there and able to make that play. We did our job and he did his. That's what you need for a good defense."

For his part, Coleman was just happy to be allowed to don his scarlet No. 4 jersey as a Buckeye again.

"It's definitely a great feeling for me to come back after a week off and really help this team out as much as I can, that's really all I've been asked to do and that's all I do," he said.

As far as his suspension, levied after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Illinois quarterback Eddie McGee late in Ohio State's 30-0 win over Illinois on Sept. 26, Coleman declined to comment on its fairness, and he had two answers about what he learned from the experience.

"I learned don't hit the QB helmet to helmet," he said initially. "No, but it was - I really can't describe it. It was so tough because I'm used to being out with the team at practice and especially for when they travel. I've never experienced it, so I had to do a lot of things to get my mind off it. I watched a lot of football. I sent Austin and a lot a guys a text telling them I was there for them and come back with a win."


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