B.J. Coleman Says All Options Open, Including I-AA Football

QB Believes His Goals Didn't Match Those Of UT Coaches

Saturday, April 25, 2009 - by Stan Crawley

It has been a three-day whirlwind for Chattanooga's B.J. Coleman.

On Saturday morning, Coleman was still returning phone calls from reporters who had tried to reach him on Thursday when he made the decision to leave the University of Tennessee football team.

"No, this isn't my cell phone I'm calling from,'' said Coleman, the former McCallie School star quarterback. "My cell phone is dead.''

The rising sophomore on Thursday said he was choosing to leave UT because he was frustrated and didn’t feel he would get a fair chance at becoming starting quarterback. He left spring practice still behind Jonathan Crompton in the quarterback race.

"My goal was to go through spring and make it a great competition,'' Coleman said. "I wanted to make it a tough decision for the coaches.

"I felt like I had a great spring and that I learned a lot. I felt like coming out of spring I had to have a direction.''

Coleman was recruited to UT by David Cutcliffe, now the head coach at Duke. He played for Ralph Potter at McCallie. Potter is now the head coach at Brentwood Academy.

"Coach Cutcliffe and coach Potter always taught me it was very important to have a leader going into summer workouts,'' Coleman said. "Jonathan is that now. He'll go into summer as the leader and he will move them forward. He'll do a great job.

"When I came to UT, Erik Ainge went into summer as the No. 1 quarterback. I remember how he controlled those summer workouts. I think that is very important.''

Coleman said it is simply time to "move forward.''

"I'm very thankful for the great opportunity I had at Tennessee and for the chance to be a Vol, to wear the orange,'' he said. "I just want to get on the field and play football, to be a leader, to be a quarterback and utilize the skills the Lord blessed me with.''

Coleman said his options are open, including playing for a I-AA (Football Championship Subdivison) team like UTC, his father's alma mater. He could play immediately at a I-AA school, but would have to sit a year if he transfers to a Football Bowl Subdivision School.

"I've made no decision on where I'll end up,'' Coleman said. "I do have some great options. I want to go somewhere where I'll fit in, although I couldn't have had better teammates than I did at Tennessee.

"We'll talk about all our options. Playing in I-AA would be a wonderful opportunity to play three years. There are a lot of great Division I-AA conferences, like the Southern Conference. It would be an honor to play in that league. I'll just pray about it, and the Lord will send me in the right direction.''

Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin gave a statement Friday on Coleman: “We wish B.J. the best of luck and wish he would have stayed. We think he definitely had improved during our short time with him.”

Said Coleman, "It was very important for me to go through spring practice,'' he said. "I felt I owed that to myself, to UT and to the fans.

"Spring was very productive and beneficial, but my goals didn't match up with the coaches. The most important thing for me was to be happy. It still feels bittersweet, but I'm happy with my decision to leave.''

(E-mail stan Crawley at wscrawley@earthlink.net)


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