Muskogee senior Jimmie Coleman pocketed his first college football offer over the weekend in a visit to NCAA Division II Fort Hays State.
Although he says Roughers assistant Keaton Callins did a good sales job on the place he once played and later coached at, Coleman said he’ll hold it in consideration while hoping to get a few more offer to compare the experience to.
Like maybe, a shot at a Division I school.
“I want to see what kind of success we’ll have with this offense. I think I can have better stats than last year and my stats last year were pretty good,” he said.
His stats as a junior were 1,473 yards on 235 attempts with 20 catches for 273 yards and 22 total touchdowns, 19 on the ground. That came after a sophomore year where he averaged a yard better than the 6.3 average he had last year, but that came with a price — he was limited to just 44 carries and three touchdowns, the last of those leading to a broken collarbone.
Depth and talent at running back, led by Coleman, and a running quarterback in Ty Williams, makes this offense more of the type Rafe Watkins liked about his days at Guthrie where he won multiple state championships.
“He seems excited about it,” Coleman said. “He expects more discipline with it and is more upset when we mess up.”
Running backs coach Kye Staley stresses discipline with his stable of backs.
“One thing I try to get him to understand is when not to make a bad play worse,” he said.
“That’s with all of them when nothing is there. Every play isn’t going to be the home run but it’s better to fight for the 3-4 yard gains instead of doing something you shouldn’t and turning it into a 5-yard loss. Part of that is an understanding of the situation, down and distance, where to go and your pre-snap reads. You have all that down you’re much better able to play fast.”
Staley, who played college ball at Oklahoma State, hesitated to draw a comparison of himself to Coleman because Staley was a fullback. Yet he compared Coleman to a receiver in a former Cowboy, Tyreek Hill – in terms of guys who don’t have the prototypical size but have the wheels
Coleman is 5-foot-7, 160 pounds. Hill was 5-9, 185 coming out of Garden City, Kansas as an all-purpose high school back.
“Jimmie has that balance,” Staley said. “He catches the ball out of the backfield and runs well between the tackles. Guys of his size are normally very, very fast, and Hill was that way, probably the fastest player in the NFL.”
Coleman found himself used a lot in a pass-catching role at Fort Hays last weekend.
“Everyone else ran different routes but when I was up there running one it seemed everything was a wheel route,” he said. “They were really focused on my hands and speed.”
Staley doesn’t give him any magic formula for getting those Division I offers except this.
“Keep playing, keep working. I feel like if you’re good enough to go D1, you’ll go D1. But you don’t need to worry about the recruiting process, just go out and play your game, and coaches will come watch if you’re successful to see what the buzz is about.”
Staley doesn’t get much feedback from Coleman though, at least not in words.
“I heard him say maybe 30 words the first two years I coached him,” Staley said. “He’s gotten better and more relaxed and he enjoys the coaches and the coaches enjoy him. He’s one of those kids who is a we-person rather than a me-person. When you ask him to do something, he does it for the best of the team and he does it with his actions. Younger guys look up to that in him.”
Coleman might get a little less modest about what load he needs to create a buzz this year.
“Fifteen to 20 carries, depending on how the offense is going,” he said. “If the passing is going good I’m OK with 2-3 targets a game.”
Even 15 carries at last year’s average of 6.3 yards per carry doesn’t quite get him to 100, though. Read between the numbers and it’s clear that when he says he expects a bigger year, that translates to some explosive carries.
“I really do believe we will have more success with this offense,” he said.