published Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Mocs duo B.J. Coleman and Joel Bradford ending long football connection

  • photo
    UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman puts on his helmet at football practice earlier this week. He and wide receiver Joel Bradford have played together since they were teammates at McCallie School. This Saturday's UTC season finale against Wofford with be their last game together.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Audio clip

Mocs quarterback B.J. Coleman

They have been playing together since the sixth grade. One throws, the other catches. They're teammates, roommates and the best of friends. And their football careers have featured far more more highlights and "Can you believe this?" moments than disappointments.

On Saturday, B.J. Coleman and Joel Bradford will take the field together for the last time in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's season finale against No. 12 Wofford at Finley Stadium.

"It sounds pretty weird," said Bradford, who leads the Mocs with 49 receptions this season. "It's been a long time that we've been playing together."

"We've got one more rodeo," Coleman said.

UTC (5-5, 3-4 Southern Conference) needs a win for a third straight winning season, while the Terriers (7-3, 5-2) need a win to get into the NCAA playoffs.

The pair's first game together was on a YMCA team. Coleman was the quarterback, Bradford the running back and fellow McCallie and UTC teammate Thomas Green was the fullback.

"We played against the North River Wild Bucks," Coleman said.

"It was just the I-formation the whole time," Bradford said with a laugh.

Coleman and Bradford went on to great success at McCallie and were reunited at UTC in May 2009, when Coleman transferred home after two years at Tennessee.

Ever since, they've made a significant impact on the UTC program.

"They've been huge, no question -- tremendous," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said.

Last year Coleman threw for 2,996 yards and 26 touchdowns and Bradford earned All-America honors with 81 receptions for a school-record 1,284 yards.

Coleman is tied with Chris Sanders for the school record for touchdown passes with 49, and his 6,639 career passing yards are second only to Sanders' 7,230.

Bradford had no career receptions entering the 2010 season but now has 1,914 career receiving yards, good for sixth all-time at UTC.

Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said their contributions in games have been significant, but they've done more beyond that.

"The main thing is the work ethic," Satterfield said. "What they do behind the scenes in the offseason I think is huge. And what they do as far as film study is huge."

All that offseason work, Satterfield said, has spurred their teammates into doing more. And that's something that can carry on after this season.

Saturday will be Coleman's first game since suffering a sprained right shoulder on Oct. 8 at Georgia Southern. He said it's been tough to stand on the sideline the past four games as his senior season comes to an end.

"Getting hurt's part of life," he said. "I think the game of football has taught me so much about life, and right now it's patience. I'm having to learn patience and injury and that sometimes things don't go the way you want them to."

He and Bradford have one last chance to play together and perhaps have one last memorable game like last season at Furman, when Bradford caught 15 Coleman passes for a school-record 274 yards.

Their friendship will continue long after they take off their UTC jerseys for the last time, but both said they expect this to be an emotional week.

"When that Thursday practice hits, it's going to hit us," Coleman said.

"It's going to hit us hard," Bradford added.

"Regardless of what happens Saturday, it doesn't make any difference as far as what he and I have," Coleman said. "That's something that we'll have forever. We've got plenty of memories and we'll continue to make them, whether it be on the golf course or whatever it is."

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.

Online: Audio of B.J. Coleman

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh 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 ...

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