Delray Beach, Fla.--Two-time All-SEC defensive end Antonio Coleman is hoping that almost two months of full-time, intensive workouts in Florida will help him have an impressive showing at the NFL Combine that starts this week in Indianapolis.
The former Auburn star has been doing specialized workouts with trainers at XPE Sports since wrapping up his collegiate career with his team’s victory over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
On Friday he will register at the combine and begin three days of physicals and interviews with NFL scouts. On Monday he will do the physical combine tests that can have a major impact on where he is drafted.
“Basically, I have been working on speed and power in the upper body, Coleman tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. “I do a lot of core work, a lot of stretching, a lot of Pilates. We do a lot of different things that will help you in all of the drills that you are going to be tested in.
“I have also been doing classroom sessions to work on interviewing skills and the type of questions that might be asked by the NFL scouts,” he adds.
“We work out two times a day and after we do that we come back at night and work on starts, Pilates and other things,” the Auburn graduate notes. “I have been down here since the bowl game and I might come back after my combine and train until my pro day.”
The last two seasons Coleman played with his hand on the ground as an end in a 4-3 front. In the pros his size may be more suited to line up at outside linebacker in a 3-4 system.
“I have made a lot of progress doing some of the drills and standing up and dropping into coverage doing the 3-4 stuff,” he says.
“I played in a 3-4 defense for two years when Coach (Will) Muschamp was at Auburn so I?am accustomed to what to do and all of that although the last two years I didn’t do that. We ran a little bit of 3-4, but not as much. I think I have learned a lot in that aspect of the game.”
Coleman gets to Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead in Auburn's victory over the Rebels this past season.
Coleman finished his collegiate career with 24 1/2 sacks, which is third in Auburn history. He also won the respect of Auburn head coach Gene Chizik and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker for his physical and mental toughness by playing through injuries as a senior and still performing well.
As a senior Coleman was team co-captain and co-MVP on defense while leading the SEC in tackles for lost yardage with 16 1/2.
His only break in training since the Outback Bowl, where he blocked a PAT and picked up his final collegiate sack, was for a return to his hometown of Mobile where he was a star at Williamson High School. He and running back Ben Tate represented Auburn in the Senior Bowl.
He was also honored by Williamson, which had “Antonio Coleman Day” while he was back home for the all-star game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, a venue where he was a Friday night football star before heading off to college.
Coleman is shown at this year's Senior Bowl.
“I think I had a solid week there,” Coleman says of the Senior Bowl. “I think I had a great week of practice and I faced some of the guys I had faced during the season and I think I had a productive week in drills and just getting out there playing football.”
A football and basketball star in high school, Coleman grew up in tough circumstances economically helping his mother raise her own family and the family of his older brother Anthony, who died in a murder/suicide. Anthony had been the guy who took Antonio under his wing and would take the future college star to practices and games when Antonio was a youngster.
“When I came to college one thing I?promised my mom was that I was going to get my degree,” he recalls. “I came to Auburn on a football scholarship, but to me the education was the most important thing. If I do have an opportunity to make it to the next level you never know how long that is going to last.
“My mom and all of the kids we had to help raise were like an inspiration to me to want to succeed,” Coleman points out. “I want to make a better life for them. Growing up in the projects and seeing my mom struggle since I was four, there was a lot of adversity we faced and I fed off that. Everything that I went through I?used it as motivation to make something out of my life. I?have been through a whole lot.
“I don’t know how many people who were in my shoes would have made it this far, but I?have been fortunate to get the upper hand on all of the adversity I faced and have gotten the opportunity to help make a better life for myself and for my mom and for the kids who were left behind from my brother.”
Spending time at the Boys and Girls Club as a kid and having positive role models growing up from his coaches at Williamson High helped him make it to college. Now he is trying to be a role model for his nephew, Terrance Coleman, a former football star at Williamson who hopes to attend Auburn, too, after he graduates from Copiah-Lincoln Community College where he is attending classes. Terrance Coleman had a strong freshman season at the junior college in Mississippi last fall after following in Antonio’s footsteps as a star defensive lineman at Williamson.
“I definitely think Terrance looks up to me and every time I am in Mobile I spend time with him,” the former Auburn star says. “He tells me, ‘I am definitely going to go to Auburn.’ I am hoping to be in the NFL next and that is a big inspiration to him and he has the passion and the love for the same things I have.”
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