Senior Harry Coleman is "The Hitman" of the Louisiana State University defense. He comes in at ball-carriers from all angles.
And he can do it from two lines of defense.
Right now, the Franklin, La. native is playing the position he came in to LSU as in 2005 – outside linebacker – under new defensive coordinator John Chavis.
At 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, he's a bit of a tweener, especially in the rough-and-tumble Southeastern Conference. But the Tigers have depth in the secondary, leaving Coleman to do what he does best – roam, stick and finish off plays.
"The switch back has been no problem for me," Coleman said. "I feel like I'm at home playing linebacker."
At West St. Mary High School, that was all he knew how to play, leading the team with 170 tackles before enrolling at LSU.
On his first day of practice, Coleman said, coaches immediately shifted him further away from the line of scrimmage. It was a huge transition for him.
"That first part of practice, it was bad. I'd always been running forward," Coleman said. "I had to cross-train my mind to do the other (backpedal in coverage)."
Traditionally, tweeners were linebackers who were utilized as pass-rushing specialists as light-in-the-butt defensive ends. They are often still used in that manner.
But in the past three seasons, it's gone the other way.
"I think as the speed of the game progresses and gets faster and faster and faster, you're going to have those type of (hybrid) linebackers," Huskies linebacker Donald Butler said. "It's no longer guys coming out of high school that are just a linebacker, or just a safety. They can play both positions, and that is definitely something of the future."
And the Huskies roster is starting to shape up that way. True freshmen Tim Tucker (6-1, 234) and Jordan Wallace (6-0, 221) are listed as linebackers, but are athletic enough to move back.
One of the UW's top commitments for 2010 – Auburn's Chris Young – has played strong safety for three years in the SPSL North, but has been told he's moving to outside linebacker in college.
"What he plays for us, it's coming forward more than moving back. He's not a man-to-man cover guy," Auburn coach Gordon Elliott said. "And at the college level with the spread offense, he's a big kid … but programs are following the same philosophy and taking big safeties and making them linebackers."
Some Wednesday developments:
&bull Have no fear, defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (shoulder) was back and running at full speed – without any protective red jersey. The junior from Spokane said he's been dealing with a stiff neck.
"Let's just say I wasn't born with the best spine," Elisara said. "It's kind of a recurring thing. This is something I have to keep working on, keep loose."
Cornerback Matt Mosley (knee) also returned, and was a full participant.
&bull Good news in Enumclaw – fifth-year senior T.J. Poe, a linebacker, is now longer a walk-on, as of Wednesday afternoon.
In front of the team, coach Steve Sarkisian announced that Poe, who is a special-teams starter, would be on scholarship the rest of the season.
"It's a good day," said a delighted and relieved Poe. "Especially with new coaches and everything, I didn't think I had a chance."
&bull There is a good chance that Sarkisian will add a new starter to the defensive line for No. 11 Louisiana State on Saturday – junior tackle De'Shon Matthews.
Matthews had been running with the No. 1 defense in place of Elisara, but on Wednesday, he resumed that role with sophomore Alameda Ta'amu watching.
"The last week-and-a-half, two weeks, he's really come on strong," Sarkisian said. "He's playing with his hands better, he's got a better motor, he's active, and he's around the ball."
&bull It may not be time to push the panic button on placekicker Erik Folk – he was 3-of-6 Wednesday on field goals, the longest from 33 yards – but Sarkisian at least is realizing where the button is.
Folk has really struggled the past two weeks, on direction and trajectory.
Well, I guess to some degree, yes (I'm worried). I'd be a fool to stand here and say I'm not," the first-year coach said. "Just from a consistency factor, he'll come out one day and he's unbelievable – potentially one of the best kickers in our conference. And the next day, he'll struggle some."
Sarkisian said he and special teams coach Johnny Nansen are trying to get Folk to find a "level" ground to work from.
&bull There was a bit of good news – rare, as it might be – from the NCAA on Wednesday. It granted true freshman Tim Tucker, a linebacker, a waiver to return to practice after sitting out the past nine days. The NCAA will continue to review Tucker's eligibility record.
&bull Running back Johri Fogerson (right ankle) was limping noticeably on Tuesday, but a night later, he was cutting with less effort, and did not appear hampered at all.
&bull Quarterback Jake Locker had one of the worst starts to a practice since fall camp in scout-team work, misfiring on throws, and being picked off twice.
"Some of the service period things, he had a couple of throws there back-to-back-to-back that probably weren't his best throws," Sarkisian said. "We're trying to game plan some things. Sometimes you don't get the look you want."
In team period, Locker was 4-of-9 for 55 yards.
&bull In his debut Saturday, Sarkisian will coach and call the offensive plays. The first 15 will be scripted.
Will it be too much to handle both duties?
I don't think so. Fortunately for myself when I was with Pete (Carroll at USC), I had a good hand in the game management side of it, whether it was going for it on fourth down, or two-point conversions, or accepting penalties, declining penalties," Sarkisian said. "I don't envision a whole lot changing. It's what I'm accustomed to doing."
&bull The team will only be in helmets (and shorts) for its Thursday afternoon practice – its final one before the season opener.
LSU will have its walk-through session Friday afternoon at Husky Stadium, after it was believed to be originally slated for the Seahawks' practice facility.