Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

New Position Leads to Breakout Game for Nick Coleman

September 12, 2017

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has seen success through his years with guys developing after a position switch. Junior Nick Coleman made a move from cornerback to safety this offseason, and it looks to be a perfect match through the first two games of 2017. 

The 6-foot, 192-pounder started last season at cornerback before getting replaced two games into the season. Coleman's confidence was at a low, but he continued to do whatever it took to get on the field. 

“That’s a big learning experience for anyone,” Coleman said of 2016. “Handling adversity and coming to work every single day with a purpose, it starts before fall camp. You can’t get to camp and say you’re going to do your thing and start the season. It doesn’t work like that. You have to come every day with a workmen mindset and attack it.” 

Kelly believes it was on the coaching staff to build Coleman's confidence up, but also help him succeed at his new position. 

"You have to go out and have a positive coaching environment," explained Kelly. "You can't be beaten down during that process. In other words, when you've lost your confidence, you have to be able to be put into an environment where I call it 'CAR'. We as coaches are responsible for the engine in that CAR. CAR for us is competency, autonomy and relatedness."

Rick Kimball/ISD
Nick Coleman

The process for Coleman was finding what he was good at when he wasn't having success at cornerback. 

"What we found was special teams for him," stated Kelly. "We got him on special teams. He started to have some success on special teams. Then as we built him back from early in the season, we got him involved in some dime play. Then he had some success in the dime play. Then he gained some autonomy where he could say, All right, I can do this. Then relatedness, Now I'm part of the team.

"That's how we built him back. Then he went and made some plays at the safety position when we moved his position. Now we are where we are today." 

Coleman had a breakout game on Saturday against Georgia with four tackles in crucial moments of the game. The ability to be a playmaker is something the Ohio native can build on heading deeper into the season. 

"We're past the confidence level when we got into the spring, at a new position, moving him from corner to safety," Kelly said. "I think that was a big shift.

"This was a big game for Nick Coleman in getting both those backs down on the ground, and he did that. He's going to build on that moving forward." 

As for Coleman, he couldn't be happier with his new position and the chance to build on something new. 

"“It was a good way to turn the page and start fresh,” explained Coleman. “I think that’s what I have done. I feel comfortable, but I have to press more on the gas this year, and that started in January. 

“After a couple of practices playing safety, I fell in love with it," said Coleman. "I love being back there and telling people what to do to get lined up. I just love playing from there.” 

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