Lavon Coleman has never lost his confidence that he can play in the NFL – not after he wasn’t drafted out of the University Washington and not after being cut several times.
Now, with the Seattle Dragons, the running back will get another chance to show what he can do. He will be one of several runners looking to emerge when the team begins XFL training camp Saturday in Houston in preparation for the Feb. 8 season opener.
Coleman has taken advantage of opportunities before, such as against Arizona as a UW junior in 2016 when he rushed for 185 yards on just 11 carries. He set a Husky record that season for average yards per carry at 7.5, gaining 852 on 114 attempts.
Coleman was seldom the lead running back at UW, mostly backing up Myles Gaskin, who became the Huskies’ all-time leading rusher. But despite getting only a handful of starts in his career, Coleman is 16th on UW’s career rushing list with 2,000 yards, averaging 5.3 per carry.
Coleman said he loved his experience at UW and praised everyone from coaches to teammates to the band. But there are bigger reasons he treasured his time there.
“It’s where I met my fiancée and where I had my son,” Coleman said.
Kyrie Coleman turned 3 a couple weeks ago.
“It’s been great, just to see his personality grow and see the insides of you inside of him,” Coleman said. “Like every time I see him, it’s like his whole world lights up, and it’s the same thing with me. I enjoy being a dad. I thought it would be scary, but it has been a blessing.”
He also used the word blessing when describing this opportunity with the Dragons.
“I haven’t really had the opportunity to play ball yet, so I feel this – no matter what the pay is, it’s really not about that (the average pay per season is a reported $55,000) – it’s just an opportunity for a lot of us to show we belong (in the NFL), and to take advantage of the opportunity we have now,” he said.
Coleman, 5 feet 10 and 215 pounds, has a good combination of speed and power. He wasn’t selected in the 2018 NFL draft but signed with the Houston Texans. He was cut in the final wave of roster moves, then signed to the Seahawks’ practice squad. He spent nearly two months with Seattle before getting cut, then was signed to the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad.
Coleman was promoted to Green Bay’s active roster for the final week of the season, then was cut in the spring. He was drafted by the Dragons a few months later, joining three other former Huskies on the team: receiver Kasen Williams and defensive linemen Shane Bowman and Tani Tupou.
Coleman said he learned a lot in his brief time with the Seahawks, mostly by watching.
“I got to learn a lot paying attention to (linebacker) Bobby Wagner and I learned a lot from Russ (quarterback Russell Wilson) about being a man and learning different things about how to treat a woman,” he said. “I paid attention to (receiver) Tyler Lockett a lot as well. Just learned how to be a professional from those dudes and how to handle business.”
Coleman said he is enjoying reconnecting with his Husky teammates – he and Tupou were roommates for a year at UW – but he has also relished meeting new people.
“It’s a beautiful thing to build a bond through God and to be able to meet those dudes and learn a lot about them,” Coleman said. “Because when you pull back the layers, everybody has a journey, and there is a reason why we are all here.”
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