Kurt Coleman would never be confused with Stuart Smalley, the mock self-help character from
Saturday Night Live
whose schtick was to look into a mirror and declare, "I'm
good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me."
Coleman, a junior headed into his second season as a starting safety for Ohio State, takes the
"I always have a personal vendetta against myself -- 'I'm not good enough,' " Coleman said. "I'm
my biggest critic, no matter what anyone says. I've always got to go out there and show myself
The OSU defense is taking a similar approach as preseason camp begins this week.
"We didn't make enough plays last year," linebacker Marcus Freeman said. "I think that goes for
It especially hits home with Coleman. He gained a reputation as a playmaker at Northmont High
School near Dayton, where he made 13 interceptions his last two seasons.
It seemed he was going to seamlessly transfer that trait to the college level when he enrolled
at Ohio State for spring drills his freshman year of 2006. He made big plays in scrimmages, and he
even blocked a field goal against Bowling Green in the sixth game of the season.
Since then, the best way to describe Coleman's play was steady, even after he earned a starting
job. He has no interceptions and few memorable big hits.
"Last year, I was just a fundamental player," Coleman said. "This year, I want to just keep
going. I want to be a fundamental player, but I also want to make plays.
"Once (fans) see that, I think I will get a little more recognition, but it's not about that.
It's about this team and us doing the best job we can."
To that end, Coleman worked in the offseason with former OSU play-making safeties Mike Doss and
Coleman said he largely worked with the former Buckeyes on "basic things, like getting out of my
breaks and just making a play. That's what it comes down to, is I didn't make the play last
He knows he's good enough to make them this season. And he knows that, by studying the game
intensely for two years, he's smart enough.
"It's knowing what the team is doing but also knowing what you should be doing at all times --
that's where I've gotten better," Coleman said.
It should allow him to cut loose a little more rather always hanging back. Which will mean?
"Everything. I'm not holding anything back," Coleman said. "This is our year to make everything