Staff Photo by John Rawlston
The ink on his signed letter-of-intent was barely dry Thursday morning when quarterback B.J. Coleman got to work as the newest member of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team.
Coleman said he hand-delivered the letter to Mocs coach Russ Huesman a little after 9 a.m., and then the former McCallie School star and University of Tennessee transfer was handed a couple of thick playbooks by offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield. No doubt, his summer reading list will be a little different than the average UTC student’s.
“That’s what makes me so happy today, that I’m truly 100 percent committed to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga,” said Coleman, who was rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and Scout.com after a stellar career at McCallie.
“I’ve got that in my heart and I’m ready to go at it at full blow.”
For Huesman, the signing of Coleman was “neat,” he said modestly, and put an end to a couple of weeks of endless questions about the Mocs’ chances of getting him.
“I thought my last name was, ‘Coach, is B.J. coming to UTC?’ for a while there,” Huesman joked in his office Thursday morning. “He’s a great kid, a great student, comes from an excellent family and we want 70 of those kids in this program.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Coleman redshirted in 2007 and had very limited action for the Volunteers last season. He was hoping to earn a shot at the starting job heading into the 2009 season but decided after spring practice that he needed to go elsewhere. He informed Vols coach Lane Kiffin of his decision to transfer on April 23.
“What’s in the past is in the past and you look forward, and I think there are some great things in the near future,” Coleman said.
Just because Coleman, who has three years of eligibility left, signed with UTC doesn’t mean he’s the Mocs’ starter for 2009, Satterfield said. Until the job is taken from him, senior Jare Gault will remain No. 1 on the depth chart.
“Jare Gault had an unbelievable spring, and right now he’s our starting quarterback,” Satterfield said. “It’s like I told Jare the other day, you’re the starter and you’re in a competition right now with a really good player, and you’re a really good player and both of you have your strengths.
“Whoever wins the battle is going to give us a chance to be really good offensively.”
Gault said he thought the addition of Coleman was “great” for the program. He said the competition for the starting job wasn’t going to change his plans for the summer.
“I planned on being here all summer anyway,” said Gault, who started 10 games during the Mocs’ 1-11 season in 2008. “I planned on working hard regardless.”
Coleman can play right away because he transferred from a bowl subdivision school to an FCS program. He is the 16th player to sign with UTC for next season and is the program’s most high-profile signee in years.
Not only is he believed to be the first four-star player ever to sign with the Mocs, but he transferred from a traditional Southeastern Conference powerhouse and is returning to his hometown. He helped lead McCallie to the 2006 state championship game and twice earned TSSAA Mr. Football awards.
In addition, Coleman is following in his father’s footsteps. Bryon Coleman was an offensive lineman at UTC from 1977 to ’80 and played a couple of seasons with Huesman.
“I look forward to putting on the same colors that my father wore,” Coleman said.
Since he announced his decision to leave the Vols, speculation about where Coleman might wind up centered on UTC. He said he had phone conversations with coaches at several schools, but all along UTC looked like the best place for him. He said he made up his mind Monday.
Watching from the hallway during Coleman’s news conference at McCallie on Thursday afternoon were fellow McCallie graduates and current UTC players Joel Bradford, Lee Hilt and Thomas Green. All three wore big smiles and received big hugs from Coleman afterward.
“My goal the whole time was to make sure I found a place where I felt comfortable, felt at home and felt like the coaching staff was like a family,” Coleman said. “I think that UTC was the best place for that.”
John Frierson is in his fifth year at the Times Free Press and fifth year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...