PINE BLUFF -- Kyle Coleman never found a home in four seasons at Arkansas State.
The Pine Bluff native took snaps at quarterback, spent a fall playing wide receiver, then bounced from free safety to strong safety, nickel back, weakside linebacker, middle linebacker and defensive end.
Kyle Coleman glance
SCHOOL Arkansas-Pine Bluff
POSITION Tight end
HOMETOWN Pine Bluff
NOTEWORTHY Fifth-year senior who transferred home to play for his father, UAPB Coach Monte Coleman, for his last year. … Played in 39 games at Arkansas State, tallying 78 tackles whle playing mostly linebacker. … Was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com at Watson Chapel High School.
"I think it made me a well-rounded player," Coleman said.
That doesn't mean the frequent moves made for an enjoyable experience.
That's the biggest reason Coleman was standing on the grass field Saturday at Golden Lion Stadium wearing a black and gold Arkansas-Pine Bluff jersey.
Coleman decided to take on one last position change -- he'll play tight end for UAPB -- but at least he's on his preferred side of the ball. He's also playing for his dad, Coach Monte Coleman, in a stadium that holds a deeper connection for him than any other.
UAPB opens its season a week from today against South Carolina State in Orlando, Fla., but Coleman admitted Saturday he's thought about the Sept. 12 home opener against Morehouse College since he left ASU in May 2014.
"I can't stop thinking about it," Coleman said. "It's like going to the candy store for a little kid. It's something I can't wait to do."
Coleman's path from a highly regarded do-everything player at Watson Chapel High School to a fifth-year tight end at UAPB hasn't been the smoothest one. He signed with ASU in 2011 to play wide receiver but was caught up in the Red Wolves' seemingly annual coaching changes, with each staff having a different idea of where they wanted him to play.
He spent a few practices at quarterback but was stuck behind Ryan Aplin before being moved to receiver. When injuries mounted at safety, Coleman moved to defense. He played both safety spot before moving to nickel back, then to linebacker, and even spent some time at defensive end.
Coleman never blamed the coaching changes or his position switches for his unhappiness at ASU. But his dad, who spent 16 years in the NFL as a linebacker and is in his 13th season coaching defense, sensed something was off and said earlier this month that his son "looked lost."
"If you're playing a position that's fun to you, you have fun," Monte Coleman said. "I respect the coaches at Arkansas State, they've got a great program there. Sometimes as coaches -- I'm talking all coaches -- sometimes we're too smart for ourselves. We move kids who had played high school ball at a certain position and we foresee them playing another position.
"Kyle, he's an offensive guy."
Following another coaching change in December 2013, Kyle Coleman went through one more spring practice before heading home the following May. He insisted that he wasn't frustrated with the position moves -- "I'm not a selfish guy," he said -- but was more overwhelmed by trying to reach an expected high level of success at a position he wasn't comfortable with.
He played in every ASU game in 2011-2013, starting 11 in 2013 at weakside linebacker when he had 51 tackles, which was fifth on the team.
"I think it was something I put on myself," Kyle said. "I just wanted to be the best, complete in every area, so I just was after perfection."
He feels he can get closer to that at tight end. Coleman left ASU at 245 pounds but said he's at 220 now. He spent the last year and a half as a redshirt while cutting weight, which he did by jogging through Pine Bluff three times a day.
Now he's expecting to be a big part of the offense at UAPB, which still hasn't decided on a quarterback as it tries to bounce back from a 4-7 season.
At least football is fun again, he said, and that's enough to head into his final season with a positive outlook for the first time since high school.
"Going back to my happy place," Coleman said while standing on the field where he's watched dozens of games and practices since he was 10. "Going back to the roots, just clearing out all the distractions and starting over for this one last try."
Sports on 08/30/2015
Print Headline: Tired of bouncing around, Coleman finally at home