May 5, 2014
Shon Coleman will take center stage at the NFL Draft
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Shon Coleman will be on stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York for the first round of the NFL Draft, not as the next player selected, but as advocate for a cause he believes in.
The Auburn offensive lineman will represent St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the hospital that came to his aid when he was diagnosed with cancer after signing with the Tigers in 2010. He'll announce a selection for a team, he's not sure which, as the nation hears his story on how he beat cancer and is now a contender for a starting job with Auburn this fall. At his side will be his mother, De Keishia Tunstall.
A team from St. Jude's spent Sunday with him as went through graduation ceremonies at Auburn. Next, St. Jude's will be with him in New York.
"It should be a great experience going up there and meeting new people," Coleman said.
One person in New York won't need an introduction. That's Greg Robinson, the player Coleman backed up last season. Followers of the draft say Robinson could be a Top 3 pick.
"It'll be fun going up there and seeing him get picked. That's a big deal for me," Coleman said.
Coleman would like to hear his name called next year. This year, it's about St. Jude's.
"For them to give me this opportunity is a blessing. It's very exciting. People are going to see my story."
This is Coleman's well-documented story: He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a month after signing with Auburn. He went through chemotherapy following St. Jude's plan. Auburn never gave up on him, promising from the moment he was diagnosed with cancer that he'd always have a scholarship with Auburn whether he played or not.
He would. After signing in 2010, Coleman was cleared for football in the spring of 2012. He practiced, built up his strength, but didn't play that season. But he did play last year and will be competing for a starting role this fall.
Coach Gus Malzahn saw Coleman's improvement last year and talked about during this year's spring practice.
"You could see he got better and better in the spring," Malzahn said. "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."
Here's Shon Coleman's video story from St. Jude...
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine