The Rebels were already in control, leading 20-0. But when Coleman picked off an errant Stephen Rivers pass and took it to the house, it was apparent this game was over. All that was left to be determined was the final score.
“It was amazing,” said the senior from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., of his pick six. “All I could do was just thank God all day. He was the reason.”
Coleman made a nice interception on the play, hauled it in, and raced 39 yards into the Vanderbilt end zone to make it, along with Andrew Fletcher’s successful point after, 27-0 Ole Miss.
Coleman had to reach down, in a sense, to get the ball. He said the makeup of his body helped at that moment.
“I have some long arms, and that was an advantage to catching the ball,” he said.
For his performance in the game, Coleman was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
“I was surprised about that, but it’s a great feeling,” Coleman said.
Coleman has worked hard to get into the mix on the field, staying the course to get on the two-deep. Now that he’s there, how does he stay there?
“Just compete,” he said. “We keep each other up and compete with each other. We just go at it in practice and help each other try to make better plays.”
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has been very complimentary and encouraging of the changes Coleman has made, not only as a player but as a person in the time the two have been together as player and coach.
“I’m very happy Cliff (Coleman) got to experience the pick six," Freeze said. "Probably when I first got here there was no way I would have thought he would make it with us. He’s really turned into one of my favorite kids that I enjoy coaching.”
“Attitude, really,” said Coleman of why he’s made such progress. “Caring about others more than just myself. That’s the No. 1 thing. Just seeing myself not being able to enjoy everything that was going on when Coach Freeze first got here. I just had to make some changes to be a part of something great.”
Even when Coleman wasn’t playing as much as he wanted to, he tried to remain focused and positive.
“Every student-athlete feels that way when they come here," Coleman said of playing time. "Sometimes you just have to wait your turn and trust in God and know that you’re going to get your chance.”
Coleman said the entire defense has picked it up this year, and that has shown with an eight-points-allowed per game average through two contests.
“First of all we have to give thanks to the D-Line,” he said. “They’ve been doing great in camp and the first two games. It starts with them. The DBs, we just compete and talk to each other. We ask each other who is going to catch the most interceptions, who is going to have the most deflections. It just goes from there.”
Coleman said he and his teammates are looking forward to playing Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday and also playing their first home game of the season.
“They’ve got a good quarterback. He can scramble, he can throw,” Coleman said. “We’re going to go out and compete like it’s any other team. We’re trying to beat them. Knock them off the map.
“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be real exciting,” he continued. “The stadium is going to be real loud. There’s going to be a lot of fans there supporting us, and we’re going to put on a show for them.”
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