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8/6/2008 10:07 AM
S Kurt Coleman  (United States)
Ohio State football
Safety's goal is to make big plays for Buckeyes
Being fundamentally sound not enough for Coleman
Wednesday,  August 6, 2008 3:18 AM

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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 opposite approach.

"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 up."

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 everybody."

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 Will Allen.

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 year."

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 happen."

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