Getting to know Tennessee's class of 2007: No. 26, QB BJ Coleman

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Woo! More local boys! Presenting No. 26, from Chattanooga, QB BJ Coleman.

Offer, acceptance, consideration = commitment

Well there’s two feet of topsoil, little bit of bedrock, limestone in between. Fossilized dinosaur, little patch of crude oil, a thousand feet of granite underneath. And then there’s me.Brad Paisley

Chattanooga’s B.J. Coleman wasn’t exactly Paisley-low, but he wasn’t exactly on the radar, either. That is until he went camping. Having received only a few letters and text messages from a handful of schools by March, 2006, Coleman really didn’t get noticed until the middle of June when he went on a camping binge, participating in Tennessee’s seven on seven passing camp and an Alabama camp the weekend of June 10, 2006 and Tennessee’s senior camp the following weekend.

Really more of a fan of the SEC than Tennessee, Coleman nevertheless developed a man-crush on Volunteer offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe during the camps. "I love coach Cut," Coleman said. "I've been going to the camps and I’ve developed more than a coach/athlete relationship. We have a real connection." Accoridng to Coleman (and a horde of other Volunteer fans), Cutcliffe is "a brilliant, brilliant guy. After the camps, the feeling was mutual, mostly because Coleman, who primarily ran an option attack in high school, showed Cutcliffe that he could adapt to a pro-style offense.

So Coleman, now an official member of the unofficial David Cutcliffe fan club, was attending a banquet at which Cutcliffe was scheduled to speak on June 21 when he received a text message from Cutcliffe telling him to call coach Fulmer. Coleman, apparently already having learned that to Cutcliffe, tempo is everything, immediately called Fulmer. Fulmer informed him that out of more than 200 quarterbacks Tennessee had evaluated, Coleman was the one they wanted. Fulmer dangled the shiny scholly, and Coleman bit 30 minutes later, becoming Tennessee’s eighth commitment of the 2007 class, the second from Chattanooga and the fifth from Tennessee.

Jubilation ensued. "It was awesome," Coleman said. "I was so happy they offered. I felt good about my chances because of my conversations with coach Cutcliffe, but I never assumed it because I did not want to be disappointed. I wanted to play for coach Cutcliffe, but I knew if it did not workout then I was going to get to play college football somewhere and I could have lived with that. Now, I don't have to worry about anything because I am a Vol." The transformation from SEC fan to Tennessee Vol was complete.
 
Another early commitment from an in-state recruit resulted again in a general lack of interest from other schools. Prior to Coleman falling head over heels for Cutcliffe, he had received offers from Marshall and UT-Chattanooga and had had some sniffs from Alabama and Kentucky, but from commitment to signing day, Coleman stayed true to Cutcliffe. Tennessee, too, was a model of monogamy, making Coleman its only quarterback recruit of the 2007 class.

Numbers and stuff

At 6’4" and 210 pounds, Coleman certainly looks the part of an SEC quarterback. He possesses well-developed running skills due to the fact that McCallie High School generally runs an option offense. Coleman's high school coach eventually recognized his signal-caller’s passing ability, though, and he adapted the offense to suit Coleman’s versatility. Once the offense opened up, Coleman showed off his great arm and patience in the pocket.

As a sophomore at McCallie, Coleman threw for 1,993 yards and 15 touchdowns. His junior season, he improved to 2,203 yards, 19 touchdowns, and three interceptions. As a senior, Coleman absolutely busted out, completing 166 of 257  passes (64.6%) for 2,927 yards, 19 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Oh, and he rushed 51 times for 241 yards and seven more TDs. Coleman holds McCallie’s single-season and career records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. In the 2006 East Meets West All-America game at Orlando, he completed six of seven passes for an even 100 yards and a touchdown and generally impressed all observers.

Coleman appears to have all of the right intangibles for a quarterback as well. He credits his high school coaches for his success on the field. He credits his parents for his not getting too caught up in the recruiting process and for his innate leadership ability. He has already made a positive impression on former adversary and future teammate, Chris Walker.  "We went to the state semifinals and ended up losing to B.J. Coleman’s team, Chattanooga McCallie," Walker said. "I really like B.J. He’s one of the nicest most straightforward people I have met. I like B.J. and I think we’ll be really good teammates, and we’re talking about being roommates at Tennessee." In addition, Fulmer says that Coleman’s attitude and work ethic is even better than his physical attributes.

Rivals tags Coleman with four stars, and says that he is the No. 10 pro-style quarterback in the nation and the No. 5 overall prospect in Tennessee. According to Scout, the three-year starter is the No. 16 overall QB and No. 9 overall prospect in Tennessee. Tennessee’s official site indicates that ESPN ranks Coleman as the 90th best quarterback in the nation.

Coleman was named first-team All-State for Division II AAA as a senior by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. He won the division’s American General Mr. Football Award as both a senior and a junior. The Chattanooga Times Free Press tabbed him the Offensive MVP of its 2006 Best of Preps Team, and the Tennessean named him to its Dream Team.

The images

Coleman’s recruiting videos validate all of the above. He’s a good, tough runner who is also poised in the pocket. He exhibits excellent form, from fake hand offs to quick drop backs. His throwing motion is good, his arm is strong, and his aim is true. He speaks well, obviously has great football intelligence, and says all of the right things.

The bottom line

BJ Coleman should be an excellent addition to the Volunteer squad. With his attitude and obvious affection for QB-guru David Cutcliffe, he will be both coachable and well-coached, and he has all of the right attributes to have a successful career for Tennessee. Expect him, too, to be valuable even this year as a Tim Tebow stand-in for the scout team, because it appears from his videos that he knows how to run the triple option.

I think these guys read these things, so Vol fans, give BJ Coleman a warm welcome.

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