Saturday, January 3, 2009

Coleman returning for senior season

MOBILE – Antonio Coleman is returning to Auburn for his senior season, the defensive end told a crowd of family and friends Saturday afternoon.
The news comes as a relief to an Auburn defense that lost defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks to the NFL Draft just four days ago.
Coleman made his announcement at Williamson High School, where he graduated in 2005.
Coleman finished with six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss despite playing through several injuries the 2008 season. He made a name for himself in 2007 when he recorded 8.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore.
Coleman said he has recovered from the various injuries that hampered him late in the year.

Here are some highlights from Coleman's press conference and subsequent interview:

“I feel really specialy that coach Tuberville came down and offered me a scholarship to play for Auburn University, which is very rich in tradition.”

“With all due respect, I want to thank all my coaches, but my mind is pretty much made up right now and my decision is that I’m going to return to Auburn University and play my last year of college football.”

“I talked with coach Chizik. I went up a couple days ago and met with him and he instilled a lot of thought and a lot of pride into what he’s going to do at Auburn University and I think he’s going to do something special. I want to be that guy (to) come back and help turn that program around and get it back to where it’s supposed to be. Me and coach Chizik and coach Whitt sat down and talked for about an hour and every word out of coach Chizik’s mouth, I believed. He talked about if I come back I could be a first-round draft pick next year.”

“I also want to thank coach Willis who just got his job back not too long ago, which played a big part in it also. He’s like a father figure to me. Anything I go through, I call him and he has a way for me to get through what I’m going through.”

“I’d like to thank my mom and my family for coming. I knew they were going to be happy either way I go, which decision I make. I want to thank them for coming.”

“I look forward to playing for the Auburn Tigers next year.”
(Was there ever a point where you were leaning toward leaving?)
Definitely. There’s been a lot of thought coming in with a new coaching staff. When I came in, coach Price was the only coach I played for at defensive end. I called and talked to him and talked to coach Muschamp and (they) said just make the best decision for me. None of them told me what to do – to stay or go.
(Conversation with Chizik help make you feel comfortable about returning?)
Definitely. When he first got here, I met with him after we had our first team meeting. Then he came down and met with me again and I went up and met with him a couple days ago (Jan. 1). I just wanted to get with him and feel him out and see what direction this program is going in. I want to be the guy to help turn it around and get things working in the right way.
(Thoughts after Tubs resigned)
When coach Tuberville resigned, I didn’t know too much about it. I actually thought he had got fired at first. That really hurt me. I was thinking about leaving because that’s the only coach I played under in college football and I love him to death. He’s like a father to me. Anything that I went through, I would talk to him and he would make it all better. I went and sat down to talk to him right after it happened and he said if I needed any advice, if I needed anything, just come and talk to him and he’ll let me know.
(NFL evaluations)
I got my evaluation back and it was calling for 2-3. It really didn’t play a factor in me going or coming back. I had my mind made up that it would be best for me to come back and play my senior year. I want to go out with a bang and turn this program around. We have a new coach. It’s hard for you to go undefeated in the SEC or any caliber D-I football and coach Chizik did it at Auburn – he went undefeated – and then he went to Texas and went undefeated, so I mean that’s a blessing that he’s a great coach and I’m thankful to have an opportunity to play for him.
(Potential of playing with nephew, Terrance Coleman)
It’s great. It’s going to be a blessing. I stay on him even when I was young and he was playing under me, I still stayed on him. It will be great to play with him and (signee) Nick Fairley and we’ve got (commit) LaVoyd (James) coming up, so it’ll feel like a big, happy family with Williamson guys. That’s what we’re trying to make it up there – a Williamson tradition.
(Did you talk with Sen’Derrick Marks?)
I talk to Sen’Derrick almost every day. We’ll set up and talk and he’ll tell me what’s going on and I’ll tell him what’s going on. I didn’t really talk too much about what I was going to do. I was leaning toward coming out, that’s what I always tell him because that was what was in the top of my head, but I just sat down and talked about it and prayed about it and the best thing for me and my family is I would come back for another year of football. I have already graduated and got my degree, so hopefully I can start on my Master’s (criminal sociology) and just get more education and get bigger, stronger, faster.
(On Chizik:)
He's the real deal. He's not just a salesman. He said I could be the face of Auburn. I hope to do big things and probably be remembered forever at Auburn University. That's something that I've wanted to do.
(On Jerraud Powers)
Talked to him 2, 3 days ago. He just called to see where my minds at. Hopefully, I hope he's coming back. I'm going to try to call and get him to come back.

(On coming back)
We've just got to get back to the old Auburn football, just staying on people, hard. They're going to look at me as a leader and I'm going to try to lead the best I can, try to be one of the best leaders in the country. If you have a great leader, then everybody behind you will follow.

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