Chris Coleman began his collegiate career at Fresno State in 2017 when he redshirted his freshman year. Over the next three seasons, Coleman played in 24 games, playing both offense and defense for the Bulldogs.
Following the 2020 season, Coleman knew it was time for a change of scenery.
“Fresno State was no longer a home for me, and I had graduated so I knew I could get the grad transfer,” Coleman said. “With Coach Baldwin and his staff coming from the Pac-12, I knew I would be okay and they gave me a chance and I’ve been loving it ever since.”
After conversations with the coaching staff and his former high school quarterback, Conor Bruce, Coleman joined the Mustangs prior to the 2021 season.
Transitioning from one offense to another is never easy, but Coleman said his time at Fresno State prepared him to be a center-piece of the Cal Poly system.
“I learned a lot at Fresno State about inside/out concepts offensively,” Coleman said. “When I got here and was able to be one of the main pieces of those concepts, it helped me be more mentally involved in the offense.”
In his first year in the program, Coleman led the team in receptions (43), receiving yards (590) and average yards per catch (13.7). He also caught four touchdowns, twice as many as the next receiver.
“Coming off last season, we didn’t have the best season and I didn’t have the season I knew I could have,” Coleman said. “This year I knew I had to come in with a dog mentality.”
Following a 2021 campaign where the Mustangs finished a disappointing 2-9, it was time for the “make-or-break” year for Coleman. In his final season of eligibility, the 2022 season was his last shot at his childhood dream: playing professional football.
“I kind of look at it as, not that my life depends on it because I’ve already graduated and I’m getting my master’s, but I’m a football player and I enjoy playing football,” Coleman said about this season. “If I can make a career out of it, then I definitely will.”
Through six games this season, Coleman’s “dog mentality” has been on full display. The graduate receiver already has 36 receptions for 616 yards and three touchdowns.
The on-field performance has piqued the interest of 15 NFL organizations: New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, even with the bright lights of the NFL looming in the back of his head, Coleman has been able to keep his focus in San Luis Obispo.
“What matters is on the field, but as I’ve gotten into this position, it starts to become more business-like,” Coleman said about the NFL attention. “I don’t think the scouts and meetings take me away from the game, I think it puts me more into the game.”
Not only is the attention surrounding Colemen beneficial for himself. The scouts attending games and practice allows other Cal Poly players the opportunity to show their skills in the hopes of receiving some recognition themself.
“I always tell the guys that if I don’t go to the NFL, I do feel like I’m making a pathway for whoever is next from this school to go to the league,” Coleman said. “They’re not just looking at me, whoever is balling is who they’re looking at.”