College Football: Oak Forest grad Tevin Coleman hoping for bigger impact at Indiana
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2013 6:44PM
Indiana's Tevin Coleman, an Oak Forest High School grad. | Supplied photo
Updated: August 17, 2013 6:09AM
Tevin Coleman had plenty of NCAA Division I programs lining up during his senior season at Oak Forest in 2011.
Michigan State, Illinois, Nebraska, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota and Syracuse, to name a few, attempted to lure the running back/defensive back to their college football program.
And why wouldn’t they?
Coleman was a human highlight machine, having the ability to score a touchdown any time he touched the football — no matter if he were on offense or defense. As a senior he rushed for 949 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 83 carries (11.3 per carry average). He totaled 16 receptions for 345 yards and five touchdowns, and was a menacing presence at cornerback, totaling 44 tackles and two interceptions. He also scored four touchdowns on either kickoff and punt returns.
It’s no wonder he was named the SouthtownStar 2011 Football Player of the Year his senior season.
However, most of the schools were recruiting Coleman as a defensive back.
Coleman, though, wanted to follow his heart and play running back.
“I love running back and want to see what I can do at the next level,” Coleman said during the recruiting process two years ago.
An up-and-coming Indiana program was steadfast in its belief Coleman could thrive as a running back. Hoosiers coaches told him he not only would have an opportunity to play running back, he’d have a chance to compete for a starting job as a freshman.
Those opportunities were what sealed the deal in Coleman’s mind.
Not only did he go on to earn the starting job in the Hoosiers’ 2012 season opener vs. Indiana State, he proved through a 12-game grind that he’s more than capable of thriving as a D-I running back.
“I was surprised I was named the starter,” said Coleman, who wears No. 6 for Indiana. “There was a lot to learn and a lot to get adjusted to as a freshman. The competition, the hype of the game and all the plays and players. It was a little overwhelming. But I think I handled it well.”
The biggest adjustment for Coleman was the speed of the game — not just at the skill positions but everywhere on the field.
“The speed changed a lot from high school,” he said. “It was way more than I expected. Everybody can run fast.”
Coleman rushed for 225 yards on 51 carries and caught 10 passes for 49 yards in his first season — not gaudy numbers by any stretch. But Indiana’s spread offense encourages spreading the ball around and not focusing on one specific target.
Even with the limited touches, Coleman finished third on the Hoosiers with 840 all-purpose yards and earned honorable mention on the btn.com All-Big Ten freshman team.
“I thought my first season went pretty well,” Coleman said.
The highlight for Coleman came at Northwestern, when he returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in front of family and friends in attendance in Evanston.
“The JumboTron showed my dad and my teammates from Oak Forest,” Coleman said. “To do that against your hometown school was pretty big. It felt good.”
Coleman is expecting to produce more of those highlights this season. The coaching staff has informed him of an increased workload, which Coleman hopes will result in a major uptick in production.
“It’s looking real good for me,” said Coleman, who has not yet to decided on a major. “I’m going to get more carries and I’m going to be the man this year. I’m really excited. I worked hard in spring camp.”
Coleman also worked hard in the weight room, knowing he had to get physically bigger and stronger to continue his development.
“I’m in the weight room every day,” said Coleman, who stands 6-foot-1 and tips the scales at 208 pounds. “It’s tough. A lot of hard work and dedication. Sometimes you feel like giving up, but you just love the game too much.”
Indiana finished 4-8 in 2012, but with 21 starters back and the first five games of the 2013 season at home, there’s a greater sense of confidence throughout the team, according to Coleman.
“The program is turning the corner,” he said. “There is so much energy and our confidence is much higher. We want to get to a big bowl game this year. I’m going to try to do my part to make this a great year.”
Coleman keeps close tabs on Oak Forest, checking the results of Friday night games the following day. He’s even visited the school on a few occasions.
“I’ve been back to see coach (Brian) McDonough and the players,” Coleman said. “I just tell them to keep working hard, stay focused and do the right things. Make good decisions and to follow your heart.”
Just like Coleman did by choosing Indiana.