By Zach Braziller
Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple and Connecticut all visited with James Coleman at Christ the King.
The rising senior running back was impressed with the major BCS-level programs, but it was Buffalo and running backs Coach Matt Simon that left a lasting impression, offering him a football scholarship on the spot and making it clear he was their primary target.
“I felt like Buffalo committed to me first,” Coleman said. “I can succeed there, do big things. They weren’t scared to come after me.”
With that in mind, Coleman recently verbally committed to the Mid-American Conference school rather than wait for offers to come from said schools. Simon was instrumental in Coleman’s decision. The two talk frequently on the phone, as much about life as football, and Coleman thinks his future is brightest under Simon’s wing.
“His whole attitude, his aura, was different,” said Coleman, a first team All-Queens selection by the New York Post who was third in the CHSFL in total offense with 2,108 yards to go along with 20 total touchdowns last year. “He was a straight shooter. When I verballed, I called him. We have a good bond.”
Simon, after all, has previously coached more than a decade in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Plus, there will be an opportunity to play in the backfield at Buffalo as star Branden Oliver will be a senior Coleman’s freshman year. The Bulls recruited Coleman as a running back, his preferred position, while the other schools didn’t commit to him at that spot, floating the idea of him as a safety or outside linebacker instead.
“I think he’s going to be a breakout player for them,” Christ the King Coach Tyree Allison said. “He had a great spring, he bought into the system. He’s going to have a really, really productive career at the University of Buffalo.”
There is a chance one of the BCS schools could make a run at Coleman. It would have to take something extraordinary to change his mind. Buffalo has everything he wanted, the opportunity to play right way, get a good education and coaching staff he felt comfortable with.
“Right now my mind is set on Buffalo,” he said. “It’s a good fit for me.”
Coleman has been in touch with Brooklyn Tech wide receiver Kyvaune Brammer, a Buffalo commit like him, and the two may visit the school together soon. Coleman was eager to make his decision so he could avoid any distractions for the coming season.
“I didn’t want to feel pressure on my back,” he said. “I feel like I commit now, I can relax, get my teammates better, get them more looks.”
It will be a busy year as he will also be a key part to the prestigious boys’ basketball team. Before hoops, however, Coleman is confident it will be a big fall in Middle Village with Allison, a former Hofstra star who briefly played in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, taking over a talented group that includes wide receiver Jordan Fuchs, another two-sport star, among others.
“We’re ready to have a big year,” he said. “Everybody’s getting better.”