The television analysts were still discussing the late-round picks in the just-completed NFL draft when B.J. Coleman's cell phone buzzed last Saturday night. On the other end a New York Jets assistant coach asked if Coleman would be interested in attending a team workout, and just like that the former McCallie and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga star again had his NFL hopes rekindled.
"The toughest part is you just never know when that call is going to come, so you have to always be ready," said Coleman, who flew to New York for a three-day workout that begins today. "I've been through the process so much now that I'm almost numb to it.
"My goal is to go there and make them not want me to leave the facility. It's up to me to go there and show them something that makes them want to keep me and sign me."
After one season with the Green Bay Packers, Coleman sat out last season, and he admitted it was tough to watch games while feeling he belonged on a roster somewhere. But even after a year away from being on a team, Coleman continues to receive interest and invitations to team camps. The Jets workout is his ninth in the last year, following tryouts with the Titans, Giants, Bills, Redskins, Patriots, Seahawks and Jets once before.
Among those, both the Bills and the Titans kept him after the workout to discuss a contract.
"Both times they came back again and told me they were really impressed but had decided to hold off on signing me," Coleman said. "That can get to you, when you have a good workout and the staff keeps you and sends everybody else home and starts talking about a contract, but then they come back and tell you they're not ready to finalize anything.
"That's when you just go back home and, even though I'm thankful for the opportunity, you start to wonder what more you need to work on to prove yourself."
Coleman has turned down offers to play in the Canadian Football League, believing instead it's only a matter of finding the right system and situation before he's back in the NFL.
Besides working out to remain ready at all times for a potential call to work out with a team, Coleman has begun putting his outgoing personality to use as a vice president of sales at Lipsey Logistics in town. He spends his evenings working as a volunteer coach at McCallie, where he tutors quarterbacks.
"It's great to have him back around, and he's really good working with the quarterbacks," McCallie coach Ralph Potter said. "With the experience and number of different coaches he's had, he's good at breaking things down in a way our kids can understand. And he's not just good at the X's and O's of football, but he knows how to relay what it takes to be successful overall.
"Our kids look up to him and respect him, and I know he's at the stage of his life where he's still working toward the NFL, but if he ever decides to work in football as a coach, he'll be a natural."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.