Written By Daniel Mogollon (@SportsMasterDan)
Indiana Hoosiers running back Tevin Coleman had a historic season, which saw the IU product earn consensus first-team All-American honors and he was named a Doak Walker finalist. It came as no surprise that Coleman put his name in for the NFL Draft giving up his final season as a collegian.
"Indiana University is an extraordinary place and I will always cherish the experience I had here,” Coleman said in a statement. “One of the achievements I am most proud of, apart from my football accomplishments, is that I finished this semester with a grade point average above 3.0. I look forward to earning my degree from this amazing institution in the very near future. I am and always will be proud to be a Hoosier."
His Stats: After falling just short of rushing for 1,000 yards (958) during his sophomore campaign, which was cut short by injury, Coleman didn’t just break through the 1,000-yard plateau, he kept going all the way until he rushed for 2,036 yards as a junior. Coleman is the 18th player in Division I history to rush for 2,000-plus yards in a season. The running back set Indiana school records for rushing yards, yards per carry in a season (7.5 in 2014) and in a career (7.1). In 12 games this season, Coleman reached the century mark 11 times and he went over 200 yards in four games, including 307 rushing yards against Rutgers. Coleman rushed for 15 scores and caught a career-high 25 passes this season (5.6 YPC), although he wasn’t as efficient as a receiver as he was during his sophomore season when he averaged 10.2 yards per catch. Looking deeper into his numbers, Coleman was statistically the nation’s most explosive back, leading the country in rushes of 60 (8) and 70 yards (4), and he was tied for the lead in 70- (3), 80- (2) and 90-yard (1) runs. His 10 scoring scampers of 20-plus yards was second overall.
Why He Should Go to the NFL: Coleman is an NFL-ready runner who is coming off a career season, arguably the best in school history, and he is thought of as one of the top running back prospects in this class. Coleman was the linchpin of Indiana’s offense rushing the ball 270 times in 2014, more than doubling his carries from a year ago (131), so one could ask just how much tread he wants on his tires before he moves onto the NFL?
Why He Should Come Back to College: There really isn’t a good reason from a football career perspective for Coleman to return to Indiana. Earning a degree, making a run at the Heisman Trophy and leading the Hoosiers to a bowl game could have all been legitimate reasons to stay in school for another season, but none would impact his future as pro running back.
What They’re Saying: ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Coleman ranked as his No. 3 running back in this class, behind Melvin Gordon III and Todd Gurley, calling the Hoosier the “biggest riser this year” at the position. He is currently listed as the 39th overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, while CBSSports.com has Coleman 54th overall and fourth among running backs (also trailing Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah). Their draft analyst Dane Brugler has compared Coleman to Darren McFadden and DeMarco Murray. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has the Indiana man 36th on his list of top 50 prospects.
Mogollon’s Take: Coleman didn’t just take advantage of bad defenses, as he rushed for 132 yards and 8.8 yards per carry against Michigan State and rumbled for 228 yards and 8.4 yards per carry against Ohio State, even after Indiana’s offense became the nation’s most one-dimensional crew without starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld. He’s ready to move on. At 6’0” and 210 pounds with breakaway speed Coleman has the physical skills to be a top NFL back. He runs hard and with power, has very good vision and the patience to let holes develop, with the burst to shoot through those holes once they open. He is also shifty in the trash, capable of squeezing his frame through open spaces even when there don’t appear to be any.
NFL Fit: The consensus is that Coleman will land somewhere in the second round. Lets start with some of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts all struggled to run the ball on a consistent basis this season and could use a bell-cow like Coleman in their backfield. How about teams looking to replace a runner? What if the Minnesota Vikings cut ties with Adrian Peterson, the Seattle Seahawks move on from Marshawn Lynch (as rumored in-season) or the Dallas Cowboys decide not to re-sign the aforementioned DeMarco Murray? Coleman could be a plug-and-play replacement. Other teams who could be in the market for a running back include the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams and Baltimore Ravens.
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.