TD-scoring Baylor WR Coleman making case as best player
WACO, Texas (AP) Corey Coleman leaps after catching a short pass near the sideline, and the defender diving at him whiffs while tumbling to the ground. Baylor’s 5-foot-11 receiver then lands on his feet, dodges another flailing defensive back with a stutter-step slide and gains 30 yards before slipping out of bounds.
Even when not adding to his FBS-leading and school-record 16 touchdown catches, Coleman proves hard to tackle while creating more highlights for the second-ranked Bears.
”He’s a hard matchup, because he’s very explosive and he’s very passionate and he’s very talented,” Baylor coach Art Briles said.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, on the opposing sideline Saturday to see Coleman’s nifty elusion and three touchdowns, was more direct in his assessment.
”The best player in college football,” Holgorsen said. ”You can put me on record for that.”
Only halfway through the regular season for Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12), Coleman has already surpassed the previous school record of 14 TDs in 2011 by current Tennessee Titans receiver Kendall Wright. The FBS record is 27 by Troy Edwards for Louisiana Tech in 1998, and Jerry Rice also had 27 for FCS Mississippi Valley State in 1984.
Of the 252 FBS and FCS teams this season, only 25 have more TD passes than Coleman has caught by himself.
”It’s great that I broke the record. But it’s really not about that to me. It’s about winning,” Coleman said. ”And whatever I can do to help this team win and get in the playoffs, then it’s my job and I’m going to do it 100 percent.”
Coleman is doing that, with at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in seven consecutive games, going back to last season’s Cotton Bowl after the Bears were the first team left out of the initial College Football Playoff. He has multiple touchdowns in the past five games, and plenty of did-you-see-that moves.
”He’s as dynamic as anybody I’ve seen,” Kansas coach David Beaty said. ”He’s got unbelievable top-end speed.”
His third touchdown against the Mountaineers came on fourth down, when Coleman caught an inside slant, put on the brakes and took a step back. The defensive back slipped and fell, leaving Coleman a clear path to the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown. There were also non-scoring plays of 50 and 42 yards among his 10 catches for 199 yards.
”He can start and stop with anybody. He’ll catch the ball at a dead stop, and then outrun your entire defense,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. ”What I was more surprised by was his size and physicality. He’s very well-put together, and he’s a strong kid.”
Coleman was one of Baylor’s top recruits in 2012 out of Richardson, Texas, in the Dallas area. He redshirted that season because of a lingering hamstring issue that affected him in practice.
While a humbling experience for the kid who had hoped to have an immediate impact, Coleman got stronger and more explosive in that time.
”It really helped me get back close with God, honestly. It gave me some time to think and learn some stuff,” Coleman said. ”It got me in the weight room. I didn’t really lift weights till I got to Baylor.”
Coleman said he is now over 190 pounds as a junior, and his body fat has dropped from 9 to 6 percent while bulking up from the 169 pounds he was when he got to Waco.
”We knew he’s a special player,” Briles said. ”You can have a lot of passion, you can have a lot of toughness, you can have a lot of energy, you can have a lot of spirit, but if you don’t have talent, then you’re still going to be normal. He’s got all that with talent, and that’s what allows him to separate and be different.”
With 41 catches for 877 yards this season, Coleman is averaging 21.4 yards per catch and 146.2 yards per game. His 14 catches of at least 30 yards are the most among FBS players.
Asked if he was the best player in America, Coleman said he’d let everybody know at the end of the season.
Seth Russell, the Baylor quarterback with an FBS-best 27 TD passes, doesn’t have to wait that long.
”What has he done not to prove that?,” Russell said. ”He’s proven it every day he steps on the field.”