When his head hit the pillow deep into the night on Saturday, one last thought crossed B.J. Coleman’s mind before his eyes fell shut.
I am an NFL player.
“It was one of the most amazing feelings in the world,” Coleman said yesterday, soon after a bombing a practice tee shot prior to UTC athletic’s annual Porky’s Open at Council Fire Golf Club on Tuesday. Eyeing the ball, the former Mocs quarterback judged it at “about 321 yards.”
The angst is gone for Coleman. He wondered and wondered where his career would go after finishing at UTC. He got his answer Saturday when the Green Bay Packers nabbed him in the seventh round of the NFL draft.
Now the work begins.
“I still think it hasn’t fully hit me yet, just because I still haven’t actually been up there yet,” Coleman said. “I’m really looking forward to that.”
Listed as one of four quarterbacks on the Packers’ roster (one being megastar Aaron Rodgers), Coleman’s upcoming agenda is set.
He’ll leave Chattanooga on May 10 for rookie camp and stay in Green Bay for organized team activities (OTAs) with the Packers’ entire roster.
In July, Coleman will return to Chattanooga. Soon after, at the end of the month, he’ll again board a plane to Wisconsin for training camp. Green Bay’s four preseason games against the Chargers, Browns, Bengals and Chiefs will follow. That’s a far cry from Southern Conference play.
“I don’t know if anyone can be completely prepared to walk into something like that,” Coleman said. “That’s something that’s going to take time. I’m going to be seen, but not heard. All I can do is learn as much as I can.”
Beside studying Rodgers like a med school textbook, Coleman will also work alongside Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo. The two spoke early Sunday morning. Some goals were outlined. Top priorities in the offseason will be improving his footwork and understanding the intricate west coast offense along with its terminology.
It’s not a wave of information coming Coleman’s way. It’s a tsunami. There’s a reason, though, that Green Bay and head coach Mike McCarthy are renowned for producing quarterbacks—the system works.
“The stars have aligned for B.J. in a lot of ways,” said UTC offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield, who oversaw Coleman the past three seasons. “He’s still got to go up there, he’s still got to work hard to make the roster and that’s not easy to do, but he’s in a great position.
“He’s going to have the chance to grow every day if he puts the work in to it. If you know B.J., you know that’ll happen. It’s a great situation.”
According to Satterfield, Coleman’s mental makeup has him prepared for the rigors of an NFL quarterback apprenticeship. Following his junior year with the Mocs, the 6-foot-3 right-hander was encouraged to break away from a near-monastic obsession with the game and his training.
A tunnel-vision approach to quarterbacking long aided Coleman, but Satterfield worried about the toll it was taking.
“It was forced on him last summer—go relax, go play golf, go hang out with your buddies,” Satterfield said. “The first two summers he was up here, he’d throw, go lift weights, go watch film. He was finally able to create some balance. ...
“His fear, like all the great ones, is if he plays 18 holes of golf, then someone like (Boise State quarterback) Kellen Moore is going to be doing something extra and will get drafted ahead of him. B.J. wasn’t going to stop and let anyone pass him by. I think it helped him to realize that he can work smart and keep some balance.”
Coleman was drafted this weekend. Moore was not.
“Everywhere I’ve been, over 35 years of coaching, I’ve never been around a quarterback good enough to be drafted,” said UTC head coach Russ Huesman. “You have to be elite. He’s elite. He has all the tools.”
Green Bay awaits.
“It’s a big move,” Coleman said. “I’ve got a job now.”