July 21, 2019 | 83° F

Coleman leaves RU with share of record

Photo by Tian Li |

Junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman tied Rutgers’ record with his 20th-career receiving touchdown in his final collegiate game in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. It was one of only two Coleman catches in the game, both in single coverage.

BRONX — When junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman tied a Rutgers football team record of 20-career receiving touchdowns, no one could visibly care about it less than Coleman.

“Like I’ve told you all before, I didn’t even think about that,” Coleman said. “There’s something that comes with it, but I would rather have the win-loss record than a personal stat.”

Coleman tied Tim Brown’s record on a 14-yard reception toward the end zone’s right sideline. That tied the game at 10 with 1:51 left in the first quarter during the Scarlet Knights’ 29-16 loss to Notre Dame on Dec. 28 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Once Coleman returned to the bench, he received due praise. But none of it pertained to the record.

“Nobody talked about that,” he said.

At least for Coleman, he ends his career with a shared Rutgers record before he forgoes his senior year for the NFL Draft.

To onlookers who knew Coleman was only four touchdowns behind the record before the season, the tying result might be an underwhelming end to his pursuit.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder’s final year included 34 receptions for 538 receiving yards — both second on the team. He caught four or fewer passes in all but two games this season.

His performance against Notre Dame illustrates his struggles. Coleman’s first-quarter touchdown was also his last-career reception, as the Fighting Irish rendered him ineffective in the final three quarters.

He was most potent in drawing defenders, as Notre Dame eventually put safeties on him. He was single covered in both his receptions in his 65-yard game.

Coleman possessed the size, speed and footwork to thrive in single coverage in college. But zone schemes took him out of games just as consistently.

“I did see a little cloud coverage toward the end of the game, and we expected that,” Coleman said. “We adjusted to it, but I think they did a good job of adjusting after the second half.”

Rutgers targeted Coleman on four incompletions, but that was not all his fault.

Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson got a pass interference penalty on a 35-yard throw to him. Freshman running back Justin Goodwin’s intercepted throw on a halfback option was short to Coleman.

But Coleman showed some progress with his health. After undergoing knee surgery after last season, there was extra emphasis on his recovery this season.

With three weeks to prepare for this game, he felt the extra practice time helped his movement in the Pinstripe Bowl.

And although senior quarterback Chas Dodd never mentioned the record to him after Coleman got it, he felt good about giving Coleman a Rutgers record.

“Him personally, that’s a huge accolade for him,” Dodd said. “He’s a great player, and I wish him the best of luck. We’re great friends. I wish him the best luck in the future and with what he’s going to have presented to him.”

Injured sophomore wide receiver Leonte Carroo, in street clothes, approached Coleman after the loss and gave him a long hug on the Yankee Stadium grass.

Partly because of words exchanged with Carroo and other players, Coleman has more to care about than the record.

“After the game, a lot of young guys came up to me and told me thank you for all the things that I’ve taught them over the years,” Coleman said. “And that really meant a lot to me because that goes a long way toward their development.”

This story originally appeared Dec. 29 on targumsports.wordpress.com.

By Josh Bakan

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