It may turn out that Xavier Coleman plays in more NFL games in his career than he did in his high school career.
Check that – if everything works out, Coleman may play in more NFL games in the first two months of the 2017 season than he played high school varsity games in his four-year prep career.
Let that sink in.
Coleman, the fantastic cover corner for Portland State in the Big Sky Conference, has gone toe-to-toe with headline-grabbing John Ross of the Washington Huskies (4.22 in the 40-yard dash). He’s dealt with Dom Williams of Washington State, who is currently under contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. As a sophomore — in games against Oregon State and Washington State — he tallied 14 tackles and harassed the Cougars with a corner blitz sack, three passes broken up and a QB hurry.
He's a playmaker who can play with the big boys, and then some.
"When you go to an FCS school, you always walk around with a chip on your shoulder," Coleman told HERO Sports this week. "But whether you came from Alabama, or Oklahoma, when we get into camp … we're all here. Head to head."
His showings against Pac 12 schools not withstanding, Coleman has actually dealt with more serious challenges off-the-field adversity and come out ahead (see HERO Sports writer Sara Schlagel’s piece) – thanks in large part to the faith Portland State and its coaching staff had in him. This is one of those situations where you just chalk it all up to love, that’s the way Coleman sees it.
Today, after a wonderful Pro Day experience that saw Coleman post a 40-inch vertical jump – second-best recorded among FCS products this spring — NFL Scouts are noticing. He also posted a 4.49-second time in the 40-yard dash (and swears it was slow), and registered the FCS’ top 3-cone drill time – measuring quickness, shiftiness – among cornerback prospects.
Those are only the measurables, and they stack up well. Couple that with the intangibles and Coleman appears to be one of the potential steals of the 2017 NFL Draft. The site NFLDraftScout rates him a day-three draftee/priority free agent pickup.
"His technique is precise, it's what makes him great," Portland State coach Bruce Barnum told HERO Sports on Thursday. "His hips are like Linda Blair's head in the Exorcist, he's fluid in all directions."
Leave it to Barnum to sum it all up in a way only Barny can.
So far, the New York Jets seem to have taken a liking to the Vikings’ standout, as West Coast scout Brian Shields has been in contact since the Pro Day in March. Coleman said several other teams have been in contact with his agent.
Coleman freely admits he’s leaning on his former Portland State secondary buddy Patrick Onwuasor, who went the free agent route last year and ended up playing in the final 11 games with Baltimore, finishing his rookie season with 21 tackles – including a start and 7 tackles in the finale against Cincinnati.
Onwuasor has been a shining example for Coleman – and they combined for 14 INTs in the Viks’ storybook 9-win season in 2015. This year, with Onwuasor gone, teams shied away from throwing at Coleman.
“(Onwuasor) harps on the mental side of things,” Coleman said. “He’ll tell you, everybody is athletic, fast, big, strong and only the lions are going to survive. That’s what he told me. If you’re weak in the head, you’ll be exposed every time. If you go to camp like that? You’ll be exposed.”
Coleman has been challenged on the field, as mentioned above. The NFL Combine’s 40-yard dash star Ross managed only one catch for 10 yards against Coleman early in 2016, while Wazzu’s Williams may have caught 30 career TDs, but none of them came against Coleman when they tangled in Portland State’s massive upset of the Cougars in 2015.
It has come down to this – a guy who doctors said couldn’t play football again because of heart issues (see HERO Sports story link above), then rebounded to play a few games at the end of his senior year once he was cleared – a chance to show his playmaking abilities. It’s a story about a guy hardly anybody knew about that the Vikings took a gamble on – and he has become an FCS All-American and Pro Prospect.
“I think about that a lot, I’m extremely grateful for (Portland State), it says a lot about them,” Coleman said. “To give me a shot after only 6 games total in high school. Without them I wouldn’t be here right now. It’s hard to put my feelings into words because they’ve done so much for me.
“I think it was the small things that go on during college football that I appreciated the most, the things I didn’t get to enjoy in high school. The 6 a.m. lifts, the two-a-days, the meetings until 11 p.m. I was just happy to be there after everything that happened in high school … All those little things people hate, I enjoyed it.”
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