By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Shon Coleman never lost sight of his dream to play in the NFL, and Auburn never wavered in its commitment to help make that happen.
The offensive tackle who was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after signing with Auburn in 2010 was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns on Friday night.
"It has definitely been a journey. It made me a better person and it just helped me learn to take advantage of opportunities," Coleman told the Cleveland media after his selection.
Coleman led Auburn in the 2016 draft. Other former Tigers hope to hear their names called when the draft continues Saturday.
Coleman was one of the top recruits in Auburn's 2010 class, but was diagnosed with cancer shortly after signing day. Auburn said he would have a scholarship waiting for him whenever he was healthy enough to come to school.
Coleman beat cancer after receiving treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis and began limited football actitive at Auburn in 2012. He played in 2013 and started in 2014 and 2015. He elected to forgo his senior year.
Friday, he returned to his roots, watching his draft selection at St. Jude.
"It's something that I've been working toward for a long time. For my family and everybody to see it go down like that, it was awesome," he said.
The Browns are impressed with his story.
"Not only what he's overcome," said Cleveland executive vice president Sashi Brown, "but what he's been at Auburn. He's been a kid, when our scouts got on campus, everyone was talking about as one of the leaders of that program… great off-and-on field character. It was a common theme of the young men we've brought into our locker room in the last couple of days.
"In terms of a player: power, agility, great length. The potential ability to play both the left and the right side. We'll let him probably start competing on the right side of our offensive line. We love everything about the young man, and the fact he's overcome adversity, and really risen as a leader within his program, is a testament to his character. "
Coleman was part of the 2014 draft when he announced the 14th overall pick while representing St. Jude.
"At that time, I was dreaming about being a draft pick. I worked my tail off and my dream has come true."
Coleman played left tackle at Auburn. Coleman said switching sides would not be a problem.
"Not at all," Coleman said. "Wherever they need me to play, I can play."
Uplifting, behind-the-scenes moment: Browns' brass calls Shon Coleman to let him know he's been drafted https://t.co/o6ZfqcXw2K
— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) April 30, 2016
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine