Article reportedly from Florida's Rivals site:
Former Arkansas linebacker Coleman talks Randy Shannon
InsidetheGators.com Senior Writer
Only a few weeks after then-JUCO transfer Tiquention Coleman committed to Arkansas in mid-December 2012, Randy Shannon left TCU after only one year and joined the Razorbacks staff as its linebackers coach in the same role.
Coleman, a linebacker/safety hybrid, spent time learning from both of his position coaches, but the former Razorback who just played his final season at Arkansas in 2014 connected with Shannon and had plenty of interesting things to say about him.
Kind enough to take time out of his busy preparation process for Arkansas' Pro Day on March 4, Coleman spoke with Inside the Gators to discuss how Shannon was at Arkansas during his two seasons in Fayetteville, Ark.
ITG: How were your couple of years with Shannon at Arkansas?
Coleman: He was like the only coach on the staff that you really can relate to, as far as off the field things and such. He just made you feel really comfortable about yourself. He can adjust his coaching to a lot of personalities, and a lot of coaches can't do that. A lot of coaches will look at a player in a certain way that they're already used to coaching and they'll look at that player as to be uncoachable. But in Shannon's instance, he's been around so many types of players and so many great players that he knows when he's coaching how to change the way he's coaching to everybody. You can't coach everybody the same. Everybody's level of competition is different. Everything is different, and he understands that. You can tell that he's coaching you to your personality. Not to your teammates' personality - he's coaching for you.
As a coach, he gives you this vibe like everything he says is right. I don't know if it is right, but that's the vibe you'll get and that's the vibe I believe. All of the coaches are going to have their things and play their players their way, but Coach Shannon just makes you very comfortable. He doesn't just talk to you like, 'Oh yeah, this is business.' No, he talks to you about family, school, life, everything. He jokes around with you and sometimes if you do well you'll come in the meeting room and he'll have Zaxby's for all of the linebackers. He was the only coach on our roster that really looked out for his position group. We weren't just players. A lot of players on the roster that I know and are friends, they were like, 'Hey, our coach doesn't do this. Our coach doesn't do this.' I was like, 'No, the linebackers are all right.' Do we have 8-10 All-American linebackers? No. He respects the fact that we're doing what we're doing on a daily basis and keeping our grades up, and he just rewards us for that.
ITG: After he arrived, as time went on in what ways did you see the other linebackers around you improve?
Coleman: I was actually in the defensive backs and the linebackers room, since I kind of played both. It changed a lot, as far as more relaxed, more calm, being able to say, 'Oh, I messed up,' despite how you messed up, what you did wrong, because he's not going to do that hooting and hollering and yelling. Obviously he's going to yell if you keep messing up over and over and over, but he's not that type of coach to get all in your face and just get pissed. He kind of made everybody more relaxed and calm and settled. That's the coach you want to play for. That's the coach you go out there and give it your all and bring out for full potential for. With some coaches, your play for yourself. There are not a lot of coaches that players can say they played for their coach. Ninety percent of players that Coach Shannon's coached, they want to excel and do well, but at the same time they want to make their coach proud of them. Coach Shannon was one of those coaches you wanted to lay it out on the line for.
ITG: What does he look for in his linebackers when he's recruiting?
Coleman: He looks for a linebacker that can definitely do multiple things. He doesn't want a linebacker that can just hit or a linebacker that can just run. He wants a linebacker with versatility. He wants a linebacker with good character, but at the same time, he understands that the character issue - if you have a player that you're recruiting out of Miami and he grew up in this certain culture, he knows it's going to take a while for that guy accept college and adjust to it. He's not going to just back off of that guy, because he knows with the type of stuff he was around and how he was raised, he understands that. He looks for a lot of different things that a lot of other coaches wouldn't even understand, because they don't even battle that stuff that Coach Shannon battles.
ITG: One of the most notable players to blossom under Shannon was Martrell Spaight. How did you see Shannon interact with Spaight, and what things did he teach him?
Coleman: That was actually my roommate. That's the thing - he kind of interacted with Martrell Spaight like he was anybody else. That's another thing about him. Just because you're Ray Lewis, he's not going to treat you differently from the Joe Blow walk-on we have that'll probably never see the field. That's just not how Coach Shannon rocks. As far as Martrell getting to the level he's at, he was at that level his junior year of college. But I don't know what happened with that. That's out of my hand, but he didn't play his junior year. His senior year, first All-American leading the SEC in tackles and all this other stuff. That doesn't just happen. You don't just have a player jump in, and Coach Shannon realized that too. I felt like he kept Martrell Spaight level-headed, because when you've got a college player not on the field and you don't understand why you're not on the field because you just got there as a junior college transfer and they want to play different people, you can get frustrated. I feel like Shannon helped Spaight keep his head leveled and told him, 'Know you're time is coming, because when that time comes just let that talent be known.' When his time came, that happened and Martrell Spaight never came off the field.
ITG: How was Shannon at Arkansas from an X's and O's standpoint?
Coleman: He was really, really big on X's and O's, but outside of that he was huge on effort. Sometimes effort can cancel out X's and O's. Sometimes just off effort you can mess up. You're malicious thoughts and ways to get to the ball and make a play can make the X's and O's go out the window. But as far as X's and O's go, he's big on detail - details, how you line up your feet, all that type of stuff. At the same time, he wants you comfortable out there. If you're too busy worrying about the X's and O's and all this other stuff, you can't get yourself thinking too much. He's going to be able to twist that up and make it better for you. I feel like with Shannon as your coach, you don't have to worry too much about like, 'Oh, my feet have to be like this. My hands have to be like this.' He just wants you to relax and play ball. Just make plays. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about. At the same time, you have to be detailed in your work and follow the X's and O's and be fundamental. But he doesn't get caught up in the fundamentals and the discipline. He doesn't get caught up in that, because when you get caught up in that with some 18-, 19-year-old kids, it can distract them from being themselves and reaching their full potential because they're thinking too much. They're worrying about different plays. He takes some stuff out. If the players are too confused, he'll take this out. If there's 2-3 plays and that's all we can run and we can be efficient with, we'll run those 2-3 plays. That's another big thing about Coach Shannon.
ITG: Were you surprised to see him leave to Florida?
Coleman: I actually was not surprised at all because from me being a senior looking from the outside in, Coach Shannon's from Florida. He recruits in Florida. It kind of seems like surprising with him being there only two years and Arkansas on the rise and being so good and having so much potential as a team. When you're on that team and you kind of see what goes on behind closed doors, you can grasp that some things may not be right. Some coaches might not click, just different stuff. One coach may have an opinion on this, the other coach have a opinion on this and always having a disagreement, it's kind of like, 'Man, I saw that coming or such and such saw that coming.' It's not like everything was super smooth and all of this. I thought it was somewhat self-explanatory that somebody was leaving, but that's not my call. I'm not surprised at all.
ITG: Shannon looked like a good candidate to take over the defensive coordinator vacancy in 2014 once Chris Ash left to Ohio State. Were you surprised Arkansas chose Robb Smith over Shannon?
Coleman: I was extremely surprised, because I thought with Coach Shannon being the defensive coordinator it would just expose so much as far as recruiting and just be better as a team, honestly. But Robb Smith - I didn't know anything about him - but he is an awesome defensive coordinator. As the season went on, he was the right man for the job. But you never know because Shannon never got that position to see how he was. I'm pretty sure even though Shannon was the linebackers coach or whatever, he still had a big hand in how we ran things as a defense at Arkansas this past season. But coach Robb Smith is a fantastic defensive coordinator. He's one of the best I've ever been around, but I was a bit surprising when Shannon didn't get that job.
ITG: How do you think he'll fare at Florida?
Coleman: If everything's set in stone and if he can get some decent players to play the position with their hair on fire, that defense they have is going to excel. Coach Shannon is going to put his players in the right spots to make plays if they follow what he's saying. If he's got good players coming in - and I don't see the Florida Gators not getting good players - so I see the future of the Gators looking pretty good especially with Shannon being the linebackers coach.