Michigan State, WR Keon Coleman is very confident, believes breakout season is coming

EAST LANSING – With the All-American season kicking off, Michigan State level receiver Jayden Reed remains top target for quarterback Payton Thorne.

Reed is the veteran leader in a room of young talent looking to emerge this season. When asked about the outstanding players from that group, sophomore receiver Keon Coleman was the first player named Reed.

It’s going to be really good,” Reed said before the fall camp began. “Weird athlete. He can run and jump—everything—change direction. He’s a big guy and to see a big guy like that move, that’s impressive.”

On the same day, basically the same question, this time asked to Xavier Henderson in his fifth year of safety.

“Keun more than most,” Henderson said. “Keun is ready to go every day. He’s ready to compete, he plays plays. Anytime Payton wants to throw some road, Keon is there. Anytime any DB wants to get someone apart, Keon is there.”

Thorne, who threw a touchdown pass to Coleman during the team’s first fall brawl last week, also impressed the sophomore.

“I think Keon Coleman is going to be a stud,” he said.

There’s some obvious hype being built as the Spartans head into their September 2 season opener against Western Michigan. And Coleman, who exudes confidence, won’t dampen expectations.

“I feel like I’m about to have a great season,” he said. “We will monitor that.”

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Coleman, who is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, is a former three-star player from Louisiana who had Division I performances in both football and basketball and contributed as a true freshman last season. He’s scored seven hits for 50 yards and touchdowns while making 10 appearances and has also played on special teams.

“We all know he has a lot of potential and a lot of potential and he’s starting to realize that potential and he’s showing it on a consistent basis on the field,” said coach Mel Tucker. “He’s a big target, he has really good ball skills and can run and is a willing blocker at this point.”

Coleman has had a major adjustment to make from a junior high school to the Big Ten and has grown over the past year. Learning from wide receiver coach Courtney Hawkins and realizing that a position is more than just picking and scoring, he is now more comfortable with the rules of the game and can read defensive coverages.

“It slowed the game down for me,” Coleman said. “My ability to do everything now increases my confidence a lot because when you have consistent wins you are very confident. When you don’t get many consistent wins and you have (missed assignments), spoil plays and things like that, you are more on the very unconfident side because you You don’t really know what’s going on.”

After Michigan State finished the season 11-2 with a Peach Bowl victory over Pittsburgh, Coleman made his mark before reaching East Lansing by also playing on the basketball team, along with a Maliq Carr court finish. He had five points, three steals, and one rebound while scoring 10 minutes in six games as a run.

Although playing both sports in the Big Ten is challenging and requires Coleman to miss time with the soccer team during the winter and spring, it was a natural transition for him. He made sure to be around the football building as much as possible while also on coach Tom Izu’s team.

“I thought it wouldn’t be as difficult as people were trying to paint the picture as it was,” Coleman said of playing two sports. “Once football is over, it becomes basketball and when basketball is over it goes back to football. I have been living that cycle my whole life adding in track and baseball and this, this and so on.”

Michigan State’s Jayden Reed plans ‘legendary’ season

“We’ll see,” Coleman said if he’ll continue playing basketball for the Spartans. In the meantime, his future on the football field looks bright.

Although outstanding receiver Galen Naylor left for the NFL, Reed returned with fellow rookie Trey Mosley. Monterey Foster stepped up when Naylor was injured last fall while Coleman, real freshman Jeremy Bernard, Terry Lockett Jr. and Christian Fitzpatrick were among those who played a bigger role.

“I feel like I have a lot of tangible things to do to be a receiver,” Coleman said. “I feel very physical, I’m a bigger guy, I can move very well for my size. I feel like I have the ability to accelerate – stop, start to their best – and straight-line speed, I feel like I have that too and I can go up and shoot the ball as best they can. I can. Being a great receiver, de facto receiver, or technician. I feel like I can do it all.”

Reed thinks Michigan State will have the best set of receivers in the Big Ten this season. Coleman said the Spartans would put the defenses in a “madness” and thought it mismatch.

“I keep working where you put a corner in there – a smaller angle – it’s not a 50/50 ball anymore, that’s 100 percent,” Coleman said. “I feel like I can get past him, be more physical than him, and get past him. If I put a bigger database that can’t move as much, I feel like I can (beat him) in my ways and open up with my character and my ways. And you put the safety out there, he’s flat-footed, and I’ll work Clean on his part and put (a midfielder) there, I’ll do the same.”

When Thorne needed to connect with a pass during crucial moments last season, Reed was the frequent target. Coleman thinks he’s more than capable of trusting him, too.

“If everything is in doubt, just let it go,” Coleman said. “I’m somewhere in there, just throw it away.”

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