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COLUMN

IU tailback impresses even Kevin Wilson

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Big season looms for healthy Coleman

Friday, June 13, 2014 - 3:10 am

BLOOMINGTON -- Forget, for a moment, the intrigue surrounding Tre Roberson's very late transfer decision, which likely means a lose-lose deal for the dual-threat quarterback and for Indiana's football program.

Wait. Before forgetting, consider this deep thought: When a guy transfers a month after the spring semester ends, and three days into summer workouts, as Roberson did with Wednesday's announcement, figure a fear of competition with Nate Sudfeld was not a factor.

Now consider tailback Tevin Coleman, a really fast guy with really big-time, big-play ability.

No, he does not play Wildcat quarterback.

As far as we know.

Anyway, Coleman is a 6-1, 210-pound junior all-around threat good enough to get coach Kevin Wilson spewing accolades.

OK, Wilson doesn't really spew, but that misses the point, which is Wilson expects a lot out of Coleman.

“My challenge to him is he can be one of the better players in college football,” Wilson says. “He needs to have the summer to be that.”

As a runner, Coleman averaged 7.3 yards a carry last season and would have surpassed 1,000 yards if not for missing the final three games with an ankle injury. He totaled 958 yards and 12 touchdowns. He led the nation with eight runs of 40 or more yards.

As a receiver, he caught 19 passes for 193 yards. He also averaged 20.7 yards on six kick returns, but has the potential to do more given he averaged 23 yards a return as a freshman.

He did all that while sharing time with another near-miss thousand-yard rusher in Stephen Houston, who has since graduated and has a shot as an undrafted free agent with the NFL's New England Patriots.

As this has Wilson pushing the verbal motivational buttons.

“I think he's real good, but I don't think he's close to where he's going to be, to what he can be.

“He's a great kid. He's a great talent. He can home run it. As he matures and becomes more consistent with some subtle things, I think he can be a complete player. A high-level level player.”

Coleman put up big offensive numbers despite a battered offensive line

Yes, Wilson noticed.

“He was fourth in the league in rushing,and that was with a right guard (Dan Feeney) and a right tackle (Peyton Eckert) who didn't play one snap. One game we played with our fourth-team guy at guard and our third-team team guy at center.

“We went through some issues with the line, but we developed that line to have some balance, to have a good running game. Tevin was a huge part of that.”

With eight returning starters from an offense that averaged 38.4 points, including the entire offensive line, optimism is high that the Hoosiers are poised for their first bowl appearance since 2007. Coleman is set to play a major role in that.

“He needs the summer to be an impact player,” Wilson said. “He has the talent to be an impact player. He has to prep it up so he can be one of those good Tuesday-Wednesday practice guys so he can knock it out of the park on Saturdays. And not just make one big play, one fancy home run, but to be a consistent guy.”

As far as the season, IU's challenging nonconference schedule includes trips to Missouri and Bowling Green (both bowl teams) and home games against North Texas (another bowl team) and Indiana State.

The Hoosiers will play Big Ten powers Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State as well as conference newcomers Maryland and Rutgers.

Wilson is fine with the tough schedule.

“That helps with recruiting. Kids want to play those guys.

“You don't get stronger if don't load up the bar. I think we're up to the challenge. We've been competitive. Last year we were a play or two away, a stop or two away from having seven or eight wins.

“We're losing to quality teams. It's making a stop. If the defense can make more stops, think about how good the offense really could be. It will bet the ball more. Think about how exciting it can be.”

You don't need intrigue to understand that.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Pete DiPrimio at pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com.