B.J. Coleman isn't biting his tongue anymore. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback is asserting himself as the offense's alpha Moc in a way he couldn't a year ago.
"I really feel like it's extremely important at the quarterback position to have a leader," Coleman said, "and somebody who's not scared to step on anybody's toes or not afraid to go in there and say what he really means and tell the truth."
Coleman, a redshirt junior, had to tread lightly at times last season after transferring from Tennessee because he didn't want to come on too strong to teammates he hardly knew.
"He was a great leader when he first got here, but he was new and he kind of had to pick his way through, pick his times," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said.
A year ago at this time, Coleman was the new quarterback, the flat-topped four-star recruit out of McCallie that everyone in town knew by name. And at least officially, he was competing with then-senior quarterback and co-captain Jare Gault for the starting job.
"It was hard for him to come in and jell because Jare was so entrenched in the team and Jare was a great kid and a good player," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said. "The guys liked (Gault) and played for him, and it was hard for them, too. They didn't want to sell Jare out and just jump on the B.J. train."
After Coleman was announced as the starter, he asserted himself more and more as the season went along, especially as the Mocs' running game disappeared and the offense relied on the passing attack.
Coleman finished the season with 2,348 passing yards, 17 touchdown throws and nine interceptions. Satterfield said Coleman really took the team "by the throat" during the Mocs' come-from-behind win over Western Carolina on Oct. 31.
Since the end of the Mocs' 6-5 season, when the coaching staff's contact with players was limited outside of spring practice, it was Coleman, now a co-captain, who led the way. He organized the voluntary workouts and did most everything Satterfield would have done had he been allowed to.
"Now he's running on cruise control," Satterfield said. "He's a coach."
And like a coach, Coleman is instructing the younger quarterbacks on the roster: redshirt freshman Graham Nichols and true freshmen Terrell Robinson and Reese Browning, a walk-on.
"You always take charge in the huddle," Coleman said, "and that's what I'm preaching to these young guys - Terrell and Reese and even Graham - when you get in the huddle you take command, you take charge."
Huesman called Friday's practice "decent" but did praise redshirt freshman cornerback Kadeem Wise, who made several good plays in coverage. ... Senior running back Bryan Fitzgerald (foot) and junior defensive tackle Nick Craig (foot) did not practice. ... The Mocs will put on shoulder pads for the first time during today's 3:30 p.m. practice.