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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rocker, Coleman have father/son relationship

Antonio Coleman was at SEC media days in Hoover, Ala., last week and had some glowing things to say about defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who had equally glowing things to say about his star pupil.

So everything's always been hunky-dory between the two, right? Well, not necessarily. They didn't see eye-to-eye on everything early in spring practice, with things coming to a head with an on-field exchange, the details of which made their way onto the Internet message boards. It was later classified a "misunderstanding." The result has been a Coleman as focused as he's ever been, ready to take on the responsibility of leading Auburn's defensive unit into battle this fall. Rocker, meanwhile, is pleased -- and grateful -- to have AC back for his senior season.

The story was so compelling that I wrote about it here for the dead-tree version of our newspaper, which also happens to be online for everyone to read for free. Here's how it starts:

AUBURN, Ala. — Tracy Rocker stood shocked as Auburn opened spring practice, taken aback that his newly-inherited defensive linemen skirted physical confrontations by dodging blockers and frustrated that his star end, Antonio Coleman, went about his business in a quiet, self-contained manner.

The outspoken Rocker voiced his displeasure, specifically targeting the slow-starting Coleman. Rumors swirled and the Internet was abuzz when an anonymous report made its way onto the message boards. It said Coleman walked off the field in a huff following the exchange.

Labeled a “misunderstanding,” the incident proved to be a turning point for Rocker and Coleman, one that’s fostered a bond between the former Auburn legend and current All-SEC lineman.

“I just thought that he wasn’t giving his best, and we sat down and we ironed it out,” Rocker said, blunt as usual. “You don’t know how a kid’s going to react. And in the process, he approached it in a very mature way. ‘I didn’t know this. How do I lead?’ Well, hell, I’ll help you lead. ...

“I think that was the turning point for him. After that, I said, ‘OK, that’s the guy I keep hearing about.’”

1 comment:

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