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Coaches, family members, trainers, teammates and everyone who could be in attendance cherished in the moment that unfolded Monday evening in Stockton.
As Lincoln-Stockton junior running back Jonah Coleman listened to those around him speak about his journey while five hats sat at the table where he was going to commit, the memories came pouring back. Coleman and his family overcame many obstacles, never folding and always finding ways to succeed together, watching their son blossom into one of the country’s top student-athletes.
Coleman wound up choosing the University of Arizona over a list of finalists that also included Colorado State, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State and Tennessee.
“It’s a blessing,” Coleman said. “I started off at a young age, going through a lot of adversity and a lot of pain, a lot of problems. Just to know that I’m going to college and going to the next level and one step closer to my dream, it’s a blessing. I thank God for it.”
The process with Arizona started late, only just one month ago as the Wildcats’ staff kept on growing under first-year head coach Jedd Fisch – who took over the reins for Kevin Sumlin after being the quarterback coach for the New England Patriots.
Offensive line coach Brennan Carroll first reached out to Coleman, followed by Ryan Partridge – a former head coach at nearby Liberty High School in Brentwood, who was hired as Arizona’s Director of High School Scouting and Recruiting after guiding Liberty to a state title in 2018, a 10-win season in 2019 and then being an assistant at Ferris State.
From there, the recruiting process continued accelerating. Running backs coach Scottie Graham called Coleman called Coleman and offered him a scholarship on Jan. 29, coming just three days following the official announcement of Partridge’s hire on staff.
That relationship with the new coaches – next to the academics – sold Coleman on his college destination.
“I’m committed to the University of Arizona because they make me feel like I’m at home,” Coleman said. “I love the coaches. We have a good relationship. They’re building the offense around me. Their coaching staff is on the come up as well. And mainly the academics. They give a lot of help to the student-athletes that involve academics, and I’m one of those students that needs a lot of help and a lot of attention when it comes to school. That’s what really changed my mind and made me lean towards the University of Arizona.”
For the Coleman family, this was the culmination of all the hard work coming to fruition.
Coleman stared adversity in the face and had two choices: Go left and take the route away from football, or go right towards the brighter future.
“My family is a big part of why I’m here,” Coleman said. “I could have easily went the other route, be in the gangs and selling drugs and doing all that, but my dad kept me on the right path because he didn’t want me to do what he did at a young age. He wanted me to be better than him, so that’s what I’m doing.”
At Lincoln, it’s been nothing short of dominance.
Last year, as a sophomore, Coleman produced one of the best campaigns across California. He ran for 1,587 yards and 30 touchdowns, adding another 324 receiving yards and four scores in Lincoln’s 9-2 season – marking its best season as a program since winning 11 games in 2011.
Those 1587 rushing yards ranked 10th among California sophomores, while his 30 touchdown runs were tied for the third-most in the state among sophomores in the state, according to statistics available on MaxPreps.
“I prayed,” Coleman said. “I prayed. God has a path for me, and I just kept fighting through and I kept pushing. My pops helped me push through. My mom has helped me push through. Coaches. Close family. I just kept going.”
When Coleman arrives at Arizona, he hopes to bring the Wildcats their first conference title since 1993.
Before Coleman becomes a Wildcat, he plans on getting even bigger, faster and stronger so he can become an even greater force when he moves to Tucson in January of 2022 after he graduates a semester early in December.
“They will get a player that’s going to put it all on the line for the team, a person that’s going to work hard,” Coleman said. “They’re going to get everything. They’re going to get something that they’ve never had in that program before, and I believe I’m the guy that can do that.”
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