BOZICH | Cards' Holliman, Hoosiers' Coleman show the joy, unpred - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Cards' Holliman, Hoosiers' Coleman show the joy, unpredictability of sports

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IU's Tevin Coleman (left) and Gerod Holliman of U of L have taken unlikely paths to all-American status. IU's Tevin Coleman (left) and Gerod Holliman of U of L have taken unlikely paths to all-American status.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Another day, another blast of confetti for Louisville defensive back Gerod Holliman.

Last week it was the Jim Thorpe Award. On Tuesday Holliman was named a first-team all-American by the Associated Press, the Cards' first since Elvis Dumervil.

Another confetti toss today. The American Football Coaches Association recognized Holliman for his defensive skills, naming him a first-team all-American.

Ditto for Indiana running back Tevin Coleman.

Last week Coleman appeared with Holliman in Orlando, Fla. for the national awards TV show, where he was a finalist for the Doak Walker award. On Tuesday, the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated agreed that Coleman was a first-team all-American.

Today? You guessed it. The AFCA first all-American offense features Coleman in the backfield.

The seasons that Holliman and Coleman delivered this fall are what make sports compelling, more unpredictable than any reality TV programming.

Not many people were forecasting greatness from those two players in August.

Don't believe me?

Phil Steele assembles the most comprehensive college football yearbook in the market. He ranks players at least 15 deep at every position.

This is where Coleman ranked on Steele's list of the Top 30 halfbacks – 21st, four spots behind Dominique Brown of Louisville and a dozen behind Jeremy Langford of Michigan State.

This is where Holliman ranked on Steele's list of the Top 15 safeties – the kid was ignored.

It gets better. Steele picked the best safeties in the Atlantic Coast Conference – four teams deep.

Don't bother looking for Gerod Holliman. You won't find his name. Steele had Chucky Williams listed ahead of Holliman as Louisville's starting strong safety.

My point is not to criticize or embarrass Steele. If you handed me an all-American vote in August, I would not have included Holliman. (Coleman, maybe. Holliman, no.)

My point is that all-American seasons are difficult to deliver and impossible to predict. It's another reason to celebrate the play of these two guys.

Holliman was supposed to be this kind of player in high school. The recruiting services found him, watched him, liked him and touted him. One service ranked him the fourth best safety prospect in America.

Then, after a season at prep school, Holliman came to Louisville and could not stay on the field. Hurt as a freshman. Outplayed by Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith as a sophomore.

The number everybody associates with Holliman is 14. That's how many interceptions Holliman made this season, tying an NCAA record that set 46 years ago. Holliman made at least one pick in nine of the Cardinals' 12 games.

This is how the number 14 defined Holliman before this season: That's how many solo tackles Holliman contributed in his first two seasons as a Cardinal.

If I had made a list of the Louisville defensive players likely to be named a first-team all-American before the season, I would have started with linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin.

Second choice? Take your pick – linebacker James Burgess, cornerback Charles Gaines or nobody.

Coleman is a more amazing story. He arrived at Indiana as a three-star recruit, the 37th best halfback prospect in America, according to

Yes, Coleman had offers from Michigan State, Georgia Tech and West Virginia.

But schools like Central Michigan, Toledo and Western Michigan also thought they had a chance. Coleman played high school football in suburban Chicago, the heart of Big Ten country. Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin were not interested. The Buckeyes signed two guys in the 2012 class ranked ahead of Coleman.

They're not ranked ahead of Coleman any more. Not after he ran for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns for an Indiana team that played with its fourth-string quarterback over the last half of the season.

Ohio State knew Coleman was going to carry the ball – and he still ran for 228 yards, one of four 200-yard games Coleman gave the Hoosiers this season.

Put Coleman in the backfield at Ohio State or Notre Dame and he finishes better than seventh in balloting for the Heisman Trophy.

Even if he was the 37th best halfback in the nation.

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