Our Favorite Players: J.C. Coleman


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:

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:

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.

JC Coleman
JC Coleman took home the Military Bowl hardware with his 25-carry, 157-yard, 1 TD performance.

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.

JC Coleman James Gayle
James Gayle and JC Coleman speak to campers during a July 2013 VT football camp.

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


6 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Young man has Bryan Randall type character and leadership qualities. Don’t think there’s a better compliment you can pay a player. Bryan Randall award winner…definitely.

  2. You got to like this guy. I smile every time I see him in that picture holding the MVP Trophy – way to go JC.

    And Will, what about his success in Track as a Hokie – shouldn’t that be highlighted as well? Scored valuable points for the team, in both senses of the phrase, didn’t he?


    1. You are correct! His hokiesports.com bio says he was “2015 All-ACC Indoor Track (60m)”

  3. JC epitomizes what a great Hokie should be. Hoping he has an injury-free, stellar year.

    1. 100% agreed. I met his father at the Cincy/FedExField game in 2012. He seemed like a superb guy and we were disappointed JC was hurt at that time. Hopefully 2015 will be a good send-off year for the kid. I hope his teammates also have become infected with his love for VT and willingness to help recruit new Hokies!

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