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An all-time great?

Tyre Coleman has improved his game both on the field and in the classroom.
Hobart athletics photo

Tyre Coleman didn't play organized football until the seventh grade.

It wasn't by choice -- he was simply too big to play Pop Warner. The wait, as it turned out, has proved worth it.

Coleman, now a senior defensive end for Hobart, is writing the final chapters of one of the most dominant and productive careers for any defensive player in Division III football history. Few players could hope to match Coleman's list of accomplishments.

In 39 games over four seasons with the Statesmen, Coleman has piled up 42 sacks, the sixth most for any player in Division III history. With 12 more sacks, he would break the all-time record of 53.5, set by Waynesburg's Mike Czerwien. Coleman's also tallied 193 tackles, including a staggering 76.5 for losses, and forced 12 fumbles.

The Statesmen have also won 35 of the 39 games, with only a single loss coming in the regular season. Coleman has helped the team reach the NCAA postseason three times, with a fourth appearance looming this season.

"He's going to leave behind probably the strongest four years in Hobart football history," Hobart coach Mike Cragg said, "and he's a big part of that reason why."

The 6-1, 258-pound Coleman isn't too big to play football now. In fact, his ideal combination of size, strength and speed allows him to excel at rushing the passer and defending the run. He's been a fixture along the defensive line since the second game of his freshman year.

Coleman, a Poughkeepsie, N.Y., native, burst onto the scene in 2011. As a true freshman, he piled up 13 sacks -- second-most in the country -- and was named the Liberty League Rookie of the Year. As a sophomore, Coleman finished fourth in the country with a Hobart single-season record 17.5 sacks and was named Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year. 

Last season, Coleman began facing constant double teams, and his sack total dropped to 7.5. But his dominance was still felt as he repeated as the conference's top defensive player. It's been more of the same this season. In the face of regular double-, sometimes triple-teams, Coleman has still tallied 24 tackles (10.5 for loss) and four sacks.

"It doesn't frustrate me," Coleman said. "It just makes me happy my other teammates are getting involved. You've got to game plan for all us, not just me."

Coleman is the best player on a great defense. The Statesmen are allowing just 13.3 points per game this season, good for 20th in the country, and only 242.2 yards per game (12th best).

"He gets a lot more double- and triple-teams, but it doesn't stop his motor," Cragg said. "He just plays so hard all the time and has really developed into a great leader for us on the defensive side of...

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Columnist

Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is an associate news editor for ESPN.com and a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has contributed freelance work to ESPN Rise and has been a regular contributor to D3football.com since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing. A native of Hyde Park, N.Y., Andrew currently resides in New Britain. 

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov 

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