What J.C. Coleman represents to Virginia Tech goes way beyond stats.
J.C. Coleman went to Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Virginia, and if you don’t follow recruiting very closely, then you probably don’t understand what his signing with Tech meant in February of 2012.
Searching on “Oscar Smith” in the TSL recruiting database, and sorting it by year, produces some illuminating results. Click here to see the resulting list.
The Hokies signed Robert Parker from Oscar Smith in 2002, and then signed Greg Boone in 2005.
And over the next six recruiting classes (2006-2011), eleven Oscar Smith players that the Hokies either expressed interest in or offered a scholarship to went elsewhere. That includes five 4-star players and two 3-star players who held VT offers:
- 2006 DE Brian Whitmore – Maryland
- 2008 WR Todd Harrelson – UNC
- 2008 WR Kerry Boykins – Maryland
- 2009 LB Jerod Askew – Tennessee
- 2010 DE Evan Hailes – Penn State
- 2010 QB Phillip Sims – Alabama
- 2011 WR Quinta Funderburk – Arkansas
Virginia Tech was dead in the water where Oscar Smith was concerned. One theory/rumor that circulated in the mid-2000s is that the Oscar Smith camp didn’t feel that 2005 signee Greg Boone was given a fair shot at quarterback at Virginia Tech, and that created some ill will that festered and lingered … until 4-star Oscar Smith running back J.C. Coleman signed with the Hokies in 2012.
Coleman’s signing with Tech ended a long dry spell, and since then, our database shows the Hokies with a 60% success rate at Oscar Smith:
- 2012 RB J.C. Coleman – VT
- 2014 WR Jaylen Bradshaw – VT
- 2014 DL Andrew Brown – UVa
- 2015 DE Josh Sweat – FSU (ouch)
- 2015 RB Deshawn McClease – VT
But enough about Oscar Smith. What really sets J.C. Coleman apart isn’t just that he broke that long drought, but that he has been an exemplary Hokie.
On the field, J.C.’s career, which is entering its final season in 2015, has been so-so for a 4-star recruit: 36 games played, 9 starts, 300 rushes, 1,309 yards (4.4 ypc), 6 TDs. Add 36 catches for 210 yards (5.8 ypc) and a TD, and you have a respectable career, but nothing that stands out.
But his commitment to and love for Virginia Tech has been 5-star quality. Coleman is a guy who loves being at Virginia Tech, despite a career that hasn’t taken off like he probably hoped.
Just when he should have been entering the prime of his career as a junior in 2014, Coleman started the opener against William & Mary, but after a 10-carry, 20-yard performance, he was supplanted over the next nine games by a couple of freshmen, Marshawn Williams and Shai McKenzie.
J.C. kept his resolve, even as he was floundering to a mere 2.5 yards per carry while barely playing in the first nine games of the season (16 carries, 45 yards). He stayed committed to the program and Virginia Tech when others might have pouted, sulked, or maybe even quit or transferred.
A funny thing happened on J.C.’s way to obscurity: Williams and McKenzie both suffered season-ending injuries, McKenzie in game five against Western Michigan, and Williams against Duke in game ten.
Given the chance, J.C. Coleman seized it. He ran for 95 yards on 20 carries against Duke and never looked back, piling up 468 yards on 81 carries (5.8 ypc) in the last four games, culminating in the MVP trophy in Tech’s Military Bowl win over Cincinnati.
Despite the ups and downs, J.C. Coleman has been out front his entire time in Blacksburg, with a smile on his face and serving as one of Virginia Tech’s best player-recruiters during his tenure, often appearing at camps to speak to and interact with potential recruits.
J.C. and Ronny Van Dyke also represented Virginia Tech abroad in the Dominican Republic as part of a Global Citizen Leadership class. Their trip was highlighted in a video released by Virginia Tech that received little fanfare, but which represented the players and the university well.
J.C.’s 2014 late-season resurgence couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy and a better Hokie, and it put a nice bow on what had been a mediocre season. What will happen for J.C. this season remains to be seen, but regardless … he’s one of Our Favorite Players for 2015.
For the full list so far:
Our Favorite Players 2015