EAST LANSING — Marco Coleman was back at his alma mater.
The former Georgia Tech All-American linebacker coached defensive ends and outside linebackers for the Yellow Jackets for the past three seasons until a new job offer came along. This led to him joining Mel Tucker’s staff in February as Michigan State’s new defensive line coach and defensive play coordinator.
“It was a good opportunity,” Coleman said Thursday. “I think where the program is, Coach Tucker, is probably the motivating factors, and also a bit more accountability. Going from coaching the defensive ends to being in charge of the entire defensive line is also another step in my progression in my career.
After three seasons at Georgia Tech, including winning a national championship in 1990, Coleman was selected No. 12 overall by the Dolphins in the 1992 NFL Draft. He spent 14 years in the league before moving on. retiring after the 2005 season and started working in finance. However, the game has kept its claws in itself.
“Football is my passion, I love it,” Coleman said. “Even when I was in the financial services industry, my niche was professional athletes. Then when I acquired clients who were specifically football players, I found myself after sort of gathering all the wallets and everything else watching them play and I’m like, ‘hey, man, you gotta bend your knees, use your hands.’ I coach them in football.
CB Ameer Speed’s transfer from Georgia to Michigan State was an ‘easy decision’
Coleman began his coaching career as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 and served as the defensive coordinator at Mandarin High School in Florida that year. He landed an assistant defensive line coaching job with the Oakland Raiders in 2018, then returned to Georgia Tech the following year.
Although Coleman focused on his own team last year, he got a close look at the Spartans when they practiced at Georgia Tech ahead of a Peach Bowl win over Pittsburgh to cap an 11-2 season. He also already knew Tucker from his time as a radio analyst for the Jaguars when Tucker was the team’s defensive coordinator.
“I wouldn’t say he was my boyfriend or anything like that, but we did meet and bump into each other and talk from time to time, just casually,” Coleman said. “I guess that familiarity kind of helped me to be here.”
Coleman received a raise to leave Georgia Tech for Michigan State, but still laments the money he may have left on the table earlier in life. As a rookie with the Dolphins, he landed an appearance in the movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” alongside star Jim Carrey. Three decades later, Coleman recalls being happy to earn around $500 for the appearance at the time, but thinks it could have been a lot more.
“I had a great time, it was a great experience as a young man to do this. If you know any good entertainment lawyers, I don’t get checks for this thing anymore,” Coleman said with a smile. “I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. If I had known, shoot, I wouldn’t have signed that.”
Coleman has a new two-year contract with Michigan State and takes over a defensive line with more established depth on the inside than on the periphery. Starting tackles Jacob Slade and Simeon Barrow both return, along with Jalen Hunt, Dashaun Mallory, Maverick Hansen and Derrick Harmon.
“We told the guys, almost as a team, the team will go like these guys,” Coleman said of the tackles. “Work, focus, focus, health are going to be important to get all these guys ready to go and continue to develop so they can be what we need to have successful defense and football. succeeded.” team.”
Slade is a two-year starter while Barrow regained a starting spot last year as a redshirt rookie after pulling out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. The two combined totaled 74 tackles, including nine for a loss, and 5.5 sacks last season.
“Two very good players, two very good young men,” Coleman said. “It’s now for them to fight complacency, develop some consistency and also improve. As good as they have been playing throughout the season, there are still areas where they can It is my job as a coach to challenge them and also to make sure that they continue to grow in the areas where they are lacking and to further improve in the things they Phenomenal young men and it’s been a pleasure coaching them so far.
Michigan State offense looks to build on big gains made last season
Michigan State lost starting defensive ends Jacub Panasiuk and Drew Beesley, as well as backup Drew Jordan. That leaves Jeff Pietrowski as the leading returner at the position after recording 33 tackles, including seven for a loss, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one recovered fumble in 13 games last season, including three starts when Beesley was out.
Coleman called Pietrowski his favorite player, but also noted that he was the only returning winger to spend a lot of time last year. Michael Fletcher, Brandon Wright, Itayvion Brown and Avery Dunn are among the others returning but combined for just 169 total defensive snaps in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus.
“I will say that’s the area where we lack experience,” Coleman said of the extremities, “and spring is extremely important to get as many reps out of these guys as possible so we can have our starters ready. from when we begin. the fall.”
Michigan State added Khris Bogle, a defensive transfer from Florida, in January who had 69 tackles, including 12 for a loss, eight sacks and a forced fumble in 35 games over three seasons with the Gators. Coleman said Bogle is making progress and also plans to give some linebackers a shot at defensive end this spring while trying to sort the mix.
“I think it won’t be until we’re probably at least halfway through the summer,” Coleman said, “when we’re establishing, OK, hey, it’s guys and we’re getting a little bit more track record consistency and do the things we ask them to do.
Coleman replaced Ron Burton, who has spent the past nine years coaching Michigan State defensive linemen, and is entering a unique situation. That comes with Brandon Jordan entering his first season as the team’s pass rush specialist.
“Ultimately the defensive line will be my responsibility, but Brandon’s specialty in the pass rush bodes very well for bringing in a completely different element and taking it to another level in our goal,” said Coleman. “It does really well. Normally a coach has all these guys and tries to do a lot of things, it creates an opportunity to split up and get a little more attention. This helps players due to focus and development in that particular area.
Michigan State tied for ninth in the nation in sacks per game last season at 3.2, but also ranked last in passing yards allowed while facing the most attempts of passes. Coleman believes this is due to opponents throwing a lot while trailing and said it’s also important to note situations where sacks have arrived.
“A lot of statistics can be misleading,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they haven’t done the rush well, but we can be better.”
Michigan State ends its second week of spring training with three more to go. In the end, Coleman will have a foundation for his band before the summer.
“We’re going to go back and I’m going to look at that first day when we practiced and look at the fundamentals and the techniques because we have to be better fundamentally,” he said. “Fundamentals and technique trump talent every day and that’s where we need to be better. Every day that’s what we talk about – being great technicians, then you add that athleticism and now we have a dominant football player. We’ll just assess the things we’ve been told to improve on day by day – hand placement, footwork, knee bends, pad level, eye discipline – and in the end, when we look at those last few moments. training, did you improve in these areas? »
Michigan State Related Football Stories:
Staying with Michigan State pays off with NFL opportunity for Connor Heyward
Michigan State’s Darius Snow adds linebacker to his all-around skill set
Xavier Henderson returns to Michigan State with goals to improve NFL draft stock
Injuries considered at Michigan State WR Jalen Nailor bets on himself to move to NFL
Michigan State QB Payton Thorne settles into veteran role while targeting next steps