Cal Poly Football gained its newest NFL player as former wide receiver Chris Coleman signed as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, April 29.
“My goal and my childhood dream was to make it to the NFL, and now I can say I’m an NFL player,” Coleman said.
The call came in from the Dolphins while the draft’s third day was still occurring.
“My agent called me and said, ‘Yo, I have a really big deal with the Miami Dolphins. Wes Welker wants you,’” Coleman said. “Once you get the call, those nerves are finally gone because that’s going on for two and a half days, especially on that last day. I had the phone on speaker near my family, and everybody cheered.”
Coleman put up 60 receptions in 2022 for the Mustangs, accumulating 939 yards and five touchdowns, leading the team in both receptions and yards. He was an All-Big Sky Conference honorable mention and a team captain.
Through three different quarterbacks and an offense that struggled throughout the 2022 season, one thing remained constant: number six would be open.
Coleman exhibited his skills at San Jose State’s Pro Day, running a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, 4.26 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle, and 7.10 seconds in the three-cone drill. His vertical jump was 36 inches, and he broad jumped 10 feet, 7 inches.
Coleman became the first Mustangs to sign with an NFL team in three years.
However, it was not a clear path to the league. Playing for West Bakersfield High School as a quarterback before transferring to Garces Memorial High School for his senior season, Coleman committed to Fresno State University as a three-star wide receiver.
Even though he had productive years at Fresno State, Coleman felt it was the right move for his career to enter the transfer portal. After the coaching staff at Fresno State refused to sign the transfer papers on other teams, Coleman found a home in San Luis Obispo.
Cal Poly jumped on the opportunity to grab Coleman’s talent and leadership, and Coleman praised the former coaching staff for preparing him for the NFL.
“I have to owe a lot of this to Cal Poly,” Coleman said. “Coach Beau Baldwin and the staff there prepared me in the best way they could.”
Yet the transfer process was strenuous at times, as Coleman stated that doubt slipped in.
“You just don’t know if the decision you’re making is the right decision because nobody could see in the future, nobody could see down the line,” Coleman said.
Coleman believes that the adversity and atypical journey prepared him more for the NFL than if he had stayed at Fresno State.
“I made everything I could with [my one opportunity],” Coleman said. “Going to Cal Poly and facing those adversities set me up a lot better.”
Because Cal Poly is not a high-level FBS program, Coleman thought the level of play would hinder his chances of playing in the NFL.
“I was very ignorant to the fact that I originally thought if you’re not an FBS level, you’re not going to go to the NFL,” Coleman said. “I didn’t understand that people could go to the NFL from many levels. I just kind of was, in a sense, brainwashed.”
Coleman now wants to advise young players to refrain from following this narrative because “talent can come from all levels.”
He believes Cal Poly can become a spot where athletes can achieve a high education while being scouted from the NFL.
“People don’t know, but the NFL still cares about your education because that’s the only way they know you can retain information,” Coleman said. “Cal Poly can definitely get you to where you want to get. I like to hope that I opened doors for NFL scouts to come.”
The Dolphins expect Coleman to be at rookie minicamp, which runs from May 11 through the first two weeks of June.