When Michael Smith left for Arkansas in January, Kansas State was left with a big hole in its coaching staff, losing one of its top recruiters and a coach who was working at his alma mater.
It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to find another guy with former ties to the school, going out and adding Andre Coleman to the staff.
Coleman brings five years of NFL experience along with him, but just three years of coaching experience after serving on former Wildcat offensive lineman Eric Wolford’s staff at Youngstown State.
Coleman admits his rise through the coaching ranks to this job has happened pretty fast.
“I’ve been blessed all my life to be around positive people,” he said. “I was blessed to have an opportunity to play here at Kansas State and Kansas State is a special place to me. It’s because of my relationship here at Kansas State that got me into college coaching and ultimately back here in Manhattan.”
A 1993 All-America and All-Big Eight performer, Coleman left his mark at K-State during his four years by accumulating 3,443 all-purpose yards, including 1,556 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns and 1,458 kickoff-return yards.
Coleman still sits in K-State’s Top 10 in 13 offensive or return categories, including top marks in both single-game all-purpose yards per play (27.0 vs. Missouri in 1993) and career all-purpose yards per play (18.2).
When coach Bill Snyder came calling about the staff opening, Coleman said it was tough to pass up the chance to come back to the place that helped him grow into an NFL player.
“It was very exciting to have an opportunity to come back and coach at my alma mater,” he said. “And to have an opportunity to come back and share my experiences of being here and sharing my experiences of how the discipline and hard work of this program have helped me in the real world.”
Coleman inherits a good situation at wide receiver, with only one major contributor — Chris Harper — gone from last season.
Although not much has changed in what the players are learning with a new coach, some of the receivers admit he is a tougher guy that expects more than they have been used to.
Senior wide receiver Tramaine Thompson said it felt like he was starting over at first and it took an adjustment period.
“It’s a little weird getting adjusted to a new coach,” he said. “I still remember being a freshman, and learning then. For me to be the old head is a bit weird, and having to re-learn. It was rough at first, but I picked it up.”
Coleman said his purpose as a coach is to push the players beyond what they’ve grown used to and make them even better players than they are.
“I just try to coach them up to be the best receivers they can be, from my experience playing the position, from my experience playing in the NFL, from my experience just being around the game,” he said. “It’s not a thing of fine tuning them. If I see something they can be better at, I’m going to coach them on it.”
Coleman said it goes even beyond that, as he is a coach that will stress the importance of getting details right. Right down to the smallest detail of a play.
“I’m a to-the-point, attention-to-detail, emphasizing-every-little-thing kind of guy,” he said. “I think when you emphasize every little thing, those are the things that are going to make a kid better and make a kid reach their full potential.
“They can run a route and catch a ball, and they come back and I have something to correct them on. It’s not always about the end result, there’s still some things you could correct that could make it easier next time.”