Trey Coleman has heard the whispers. He’s seen the recruiting rankings, too.
But don’t tell Trey Coleman he isn’t good enough.
Tennessee’s 3-star tailback commit from West Monroe (La.) High School plays with a Rocky Top-sized chip on his shoulder, and the nation’s 910th-ranked prospect is out to prove why he’s one of the most underrated running backs in the country this fall.
“I like to be counted out,” Coleman said.
“Going into high school, everybody counted me out. They always said the people in front of me was better than me. Just me committing to Tennessee, I still see that people still think, ‘He isn’t going to play at Tennessee.’ That just burns my fire even more, that people continue to doubt me knowing that I’ve continually proved them wrong. It burns my fire.”
Don’t expect Coleman’s flame to go out anytime soon, either.
The 5-foot-11, 203-pound running back rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a junior starring for one of the biggest powerhouse programs in the country. The Rebels have won eight state championships since 1993 and Coleman hopes to lead them back to glory again this season. And yet, Coleman was largely overlooked on the recruiting circuit until this spring. In February, the Vols were the first Power 5 program to give him an offer.
Some schools wondered about Coleman’s straight-line speed, while others were curious about his overall ceiling. The home-state LSU Tigers? They never showed a ton of legitimate interest.
Coleman’s film speaks for itself. He’s a tough-nosed tailback who breaks tackles and has the ability to play early at Tennessee. He’s spent the summer “grinding,” working on the finer points of this game like pass protection, route-running and speed training.
“I get asked all the time, ‘How fast is he?’ Well how fast do you need him to be?” said Joey Adams, his position coach at West Monroe. “You turn around and pitch him the ball and he makes three people miss, he stiff arms one (guy) and runs over a safety, and he goes 60 yards for a touchdown. How fast do you need to be to do all that?
“What he does in pads and what he does with a football can’t be measured with a stopwatch.”
Coleman committed to Tennessee during “Orange Carpet Weekend” in June, choosing the Vols over Arkansas, Mississippi State and Iowa State. He likes Tennessee’s versatile offense and he sees an opportunity to get on the field early with star tailbacks Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara likely headed to the NFL after the 2016 season.
Still, he isn’t afraid of future competition and has no problem with Tennessee continuing to recruit a second tailback for its 2017 class.
“Whatever makes the team better to get a ring that’s all I care about,” he said. “I’m going to work hard enough to play that’s all that matters.”
For now, Coleman has set his sights on his senior season, aiming to eclipse 2,000 yards and win a state championship. With Coleman’s blue-collar approach, Adams believes the tailback could be headed for stardom if he continues to work and play with a no-nonsense attitude.
“He probably has got a chance to be the greatest tailback that’s ever come through West Monroe High School,” Adams said.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com