Diesel sign former Loper QB

03/29/02 Kearney Cyberhub
KEARNEY — The "Kearney Kannon" is back.

The Tri-City Diesel signed former University of Nebraska at Kearney quarterback Justin Coleman Thursday morning.

Coleman finished his Loper career as the all-time leading passer in NCAA Division II history with 11,213 yards. He started every game in his four-year career at UNK and threw for 99 touchdowns.

Coleman finished second in the Harlon Hill voting at the end of his senior season in which he led the Lopers to a 7-3 record.

"There is no question that it's going to help the team," Diesel general manager Mike Skeen said. "He has proven that he is an excellent passer. He also has the mindset to do well in our offense. … We expect him to make a big impact."

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Coleman was one of the select few college quarterbacks to be invited to the NFL combine at the conclusion of his senior season in which he threw for 2,645 yards and 26 touchdowns.

However, Coleman was not picked in the 2001 draft and opted to sign with the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League. He was eventually released by the Rush and was picked up by the Indiana Firebirds this season.

Coleman was waived by the Firebirds on Saturday.

"He talked to some of his old teammates and friends and word got back to us that he was interested in playing," Skeen said. "So we gave him a call and sat down and signed the contract.

"He just wants to keep playing instead of taking a year off until tryouts next year. … You have to keep playing in this business."

Coleman is essentially a pocket-passer and boasts 59.2 percent career completion rate. His style should be a perfect fit for the Diesel's "West Coast" style passing scheme that demands an accurate and powerful throwing arm.

"I'm not a coach but I'm sure he'll make a run for it," Skeen said. "He will be a tough player to keep on the bench."

Skeen said Coleman will not play in the Diesel's game versus Omaha tonight, but would ready for the April 6 showdown with Billings at the Tri-City Arena.


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