Marcus Coleman will be the first to tell you that he needed work when he arrived at Syracuse in 2012. He was 258 pounds according to Syracuse Athletics, which is vastly underweight for a defensive tackle.
So when he arrived that summer, defensive line coach Tim Daoust and athletic development director Will Hicks created a strength and nutrition plan based on Daoust's ideal size for the then-freshman. But the plan was only one half of the process. Coleman's mindset was the other.
"The kids that go to work at it get results because Will puts them in position to succeed," Daoust said. "I give Marcus a lot of credit, because all he's done is what we asked him to do."
So now, as a 286-pound junior, Coleman has literally grown into form. When he looks back on it now, he calls his weight "a hindrance." But it has been worth it.
"It has been an experience, because I have been behind great defensive lineman," Coleman said. "I have just been watching them, and trying to get to where they were.
"My journey has been a difficult one, but I've been persistent with the help of my coaches. My players—because we're a family—have helped push me through competition and being "hard-nosed," as Coach Shafer says it."
Coleman redshirted his freshman year, and he says it kept him unaware of some of the process. But his sophomore year allowed him to be on the sideline and witness how upperclassmen on the defensive line pushed themselves.
Coleman said that he tried to take pieces of other guys' games, like Jay Bromley, Eric Crume, and Deon Goggins. And even though he feels more confident in his ability now than he ever has, he says he still slips up on technique occasionally.
But Daoust said he makes up for his weaknesses by working incredibly hard. And his work ethic goes noticed by everyone. "They respect the way he approaches the game," Daoust said. "In the meeting rooms, he's mature and he's taking good notes."
Daoust said this is the trajectory you want to see a guy go through. He's paid his dues, changed his body, worked hard in the weight room, got beat up in practice and learned (and earned) things the hard way. Now he has a shot to be a starter, especially after this spring session. He only has two total tackles in his career. But Daoust is excited to see what this year holds for him.
"Marcus Coleman has probably been the guy that's emerged as the ‘hey, play me coach, you can count on me' guy," Daoust said. "So he'll continue to get better and he'll get a lot of reps with the ones."
"I am proud of Marcus. His work ethic has really paid off, and that's what you want to see. That is the culture you want to build: guys that work get rewarded."