One of the more intriguing prospects to enter this year's draft is UCLA running back Derrick Coleman. And the Raiders would like to get a closer look at him according to Bill Williamson of ESPN AFC West blog.
The running back earned the Tom Prothro Award for best Special Teams player was named to the All Pac-12 second team last season. The UCLA coaching staff also named him the Paul Wellman Memorial Award recipient for All Around Excellence. He led the team with 11 touchdowns last season and was second on the team with 765 rushing yards.
But what makes him most intriguing is he did it all while barely hearing a word. He is hearing impaired.
Coleman must wear his hearing aids to hear much of anything those around him are saying. But even then, he must read lips to make it out-something he does exceptionally well.
"Derrick has overcome his disability in such a way that no one even notices it's a disability," said Coleman's former head coach Rick Neuheisel in an ESPN interview. "It's really second nature. He comes and grabs you on the shoulder to make sure you look at him. He'll tell you what you said when you're on the sideline 35 yards away because he can read lips ... He really has worked so hard and has such a great attitude about it, in terms of not being insecure about it, it's really phenomenal of how little it impacts anything."
The disability has taught Coleman a rare level of focus and abilities to compensate for his one weakened sense.
"I have to pay attention like five times more than everybody else does," Coleman said. "When he says the play, I'm focused. I'll do whatever I got to do to do my job because if I don't hear him, we're all in trouble.
"I'm not the type of person who is ever going to blame it on my hearing if I mess up. Maybe I have too much pride because even if I don't hear it, I might just say I got it wrong, rather than blame it on my hearing, you know?"
Ok, so, Coleman won the team award for All Around Excellence, can play both running back and fullback, and is a standout on special teams. Sound like anyone we know? Perhaps two-time Commitment to Excellence Award winner, Rock Cartwright?
With Cartwright leaving as a free agent to sign with the 49ers, the Raiders will need someone to replace his production. And depending on what they see on Coleman's visit, he could be it.
The Raiders recently added a running back to the team in Mike Goodson by way of trade from the Carolina Panthers. But Goodson is not a big back at just 6-0, 210 lbs and can't replace Cartwright and Michael Bush who both left in free agency, so the team could still add another in the draft.
Coleman has good size (6-0, 240 lbs) and he performed well at the combine, running a 4.52 40 yard dash. He is expected to be a late round pick or possibly go undrafted.