AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Shon Coleman finally finds himself engaged in the kind of battle an athlete covets, fighting for a starting job instead of survival.
The Auburn sophomore is vying with Patrick Miller this spring to replace Greg Robinson at left tackle, four years after being diagnosed with cancer. It's all about football these days for a former five-star prospect who's at long last getting his chance to live up to the billing.
"This time last year, of course we had a close eye on him," Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said on Tuesday. "Everything he went through with his treatments and everything with that.
"You could see he got better and better in the spring. And once we got to fall, you could tell he was starting to get his strength back. He did a solid job for us when he got in last year. Now, he's fighting for a starting position. You can see the urgency's there. He definitely looks like the guy that we recruited four years ago when he was healthy."
This starting shot is the latest in a succession of milestones for Coleman.
Two years ago next week, he practiced for the first time. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in January 2013 and saw his first action late in the second game of the season, against Arkansas State.
Robinson cleared the way for either Miller or Coleman to take over when he left early to enter the NFL draft. If Coleman has one edge over his teammates, it's perspective.
Fighting for a starting job and trying to make it to the NFL himself someday are important, but hardly life and death.
"I've got a dream that I work for every day, and I just work toward that goal," Coleman said. "If I'm blessed enough to get in that position, then it will happen."
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