Coleman can't wait

If boundless enthusiasm were the key to being Tennessee's No. 1 quarterback, head coach Phillip Fulmer could go ahead and pencil in redshirt freshman B.J. Coleman to start the 2008 opener at UCLA.

The 6-3, 210-pounder from Chattanooga literally gushes whenever he's discussing Vol football.

For instance, when asked about opening the spring bracketed first-team with junior Jonathan Crompton and sophomore Nick Stephens, Coleman beamed as he replied:

"Oh, I'm very, very honored to be out here competing with these guys. Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens are excellent quarterbacks. Coach Clawson is putting in a new offense right now, and each of us has a shot. Right now we're all trying to learn as much as we can."

Clawson, of course, is first-year offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, who is installing a West Coast system this spring. Coleman looked pretty comfortable with it in last Saturday's full-scale scrimmage, completing 9 of 16 passes for 95 yards. Those numbers would've been even better if Gerald Jones hadn't dropped a potential big-gainer.

When asked about his performance in the scrimmage, Coleman's enthusiasm just about bubbled over.

"I really, really enjoyed it," he said, grinning broadly. "I felt like I jelled well with the guys in the huddle. At the same time, I was learning from both Jon and Nick. Those guys did some great things. After looking at the film, there's a lot of things we have to work on. There's a lot of ways we can get better, and that's what we're going to focus on."

Coleman enjoyed a spectacular senior season at McCallie High School in 2006, completing 166 of 257 passes for 2,927 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also ran for 241 yards and seven TDs. He capped his prep career by completing 6 of 7 passes for 100 yards in leading his team to victory in the East Meets West All-American Game at Orlando.

In spite of Coleman's high school accolades, you get the idea that he is having the time of his life at Tennessee. Even learning all new terminology can't dampen his enthusiasm.

"It's not bad," he said, shaking his head to emphasize the point. "It's just a matter of repetition. Like any other sport, the more reps you get, the better off you are."

Coleman got one-third of the reps in the first scrimmage and acquitted himself fairly well. Overall, he was pleased.

"I felt comfortable in the pocket," he said. "I felt confident and I felt like my guys were going to be where they were supposed to be. That's important for a quarterback because you know you can play fast."

Still, Coleman understands that he remains an unfinished product.

"I've got a lot of work to do," he said. "Watching film, there were some great things and there were some things I need to improve – obviously, how to manage an offense (being foremost). You've got to make sure you pay attention to the play clock, make sure you've got your guys set in the huddle. We've got to make sure those things are polished."

Coleman is not yet "polished," but he has made significant progress since joining the program last August. In particular, he believes he made great strides in the days since last Saturday's scrimmage.

"Going from the first scrimmage to the second scrimmage tells you a lot," he said. "You've got to get a lot better from the first to the second. You can't get complacent."

Given his level of enthusiasm, it's hard to imagine B. J. Coleman ever getting complacent.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories