Football

After one season as analyst, Coleman ready to coach WRs in manner he prefers

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In his first season at Texas as an analyst, Andre Coleman had to do something out of the ordinary. Since his coaching career began at Youngstown State in 2010, he always had control of the wide receiver room. That wasn’t the case in 2019.

“It was tough for me because I’ve never been in a position where I had to take a back seat,” Coleman said February 11. “When you feel like you have the experience, when you feel like you know that you can add and bring more to the table but you have to be respectful of authority in a sense, that was difficult for me.

“But it was a learning experience because I had to sit back and I had to just listen and observe. A lot of times when you do that, you learn a lot. That was the case with me this year.”

Coaches designated as analysts are not allowed to directly coach the players. They offer support for the assistant coaches and help in the gameplan process. Coleman watched Drew Mehringer and Corby Meekins coach the receivers in 2019.

“A lot of things that maybe I wanted to say last year, I couldn’t,” Coleman said. “I had a role to play. I played that role.”

Mehringer was fired after the final regular season game and Meekins was reassigned to an off-field role. Coleman was named the interim wide receivers coach, and he finally was able to instruct the position group in the manner he thought best leading up to the Alamo Bowl. “Things I wanted to say, things I wanted to do, I can actually do it,” he said.

Coleman made a significant impact in the time he had the interim label. Players learned techniques they could have used all season. Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay each caught touchdown passes in the bowl despite the Longhorns’ emphasis on rushing over passing.

Both Johnson and Duvernay received instruction from Coleman but not just about on-field play at Texas. They learned about how to handle the Senior Bowl and the NFL Draft, two processes Coleman is familiar with through his NFL career.

The duo thought so highly of Coleman that despite approaching the conclusion of their time at Texas, they went to head coach Tom Herman’s office and made the case for Coleman to be the full-time wide receivers coach.

“When I see those guys, I probably owe them a dinner,” Coleman said. “I appreciate the kind words. I appreciate them being students of the game and really wanting to be better football players. It just says a lot about them that they want to be better football players.”

Now, Coleman can coach the way he prefers. Though they helped him get the job, he won’t have Johnson and Duvernay in 2020. During the spring and summer, Coleman will have to figure out who will replace two of the top ten receivers in school history.

Texas has recruited well at the position, with Brennan Eagles, Jordan Whittington, Jake Smith, and Josh Moore serving as some of Texas best top-line options. None of those players have showed consistent production in their time as Longhorns.

“They just have a lot of potential,” Coleman said. “That’s it. All potential means is that you haven’t done anything yet. That’s what I tell them. It’s not about touchdowns. It’s about being assignment sound.”

Coleman said he will place an emphasis on competition. Whoever is the best player in Coleman’s room, scholarship or otherwise, will see the field. He also explained he’ll emphasize technique, fundamentals and discipline.

“Talent is common, but the discipline is rare,” Coleman said. “I’ll take discipline over talent. If you’re disciplined, I can put you in a position to make a play. If you’re talented and undisciplined, those are the kind of guys that will get you beat.”

Discipline includes learning scheme. Coleman isn’t at Texas to teach players how to play only one receiver position. He’s at Texas to teach how to play wide receiver. There are distinctions, some guys are better suited for outside wide receiver spots, other for inside spots.

Those distinctions aren’t lost on Coleman, but he’s not going to pigeon-hole players into only one role.

“We don’t want to learn X,” Coleman said. “We want to learn scheme. We want to learn big picture, which means you can play anywhere. A lot of these guys have aspirations of going to the next level. If you want to go to the next level, you’re not going to be an X. You’re going to be a receiver. You’ve got to learn the big picture.”

All that is part of what Coleman patiently waited one season to do.

“Now I can actually coach.”