In many ways, Cornelius Coleman's football life has come full circle. And in many ways, it's also just beginning.
A Washington, D.C. native, Coleman's college career began in Western Pennsylvania at Waynesburg University. Coleman was a fixture on the defensive line, capping his senior season as the team leader in sacks. His name was a familiar one to opposing coaches, who no doubt were concerned about his abilities on the line as they game-planned against the Yellow Jackets.
That included a coach at rival Washington & Jefferson College by the name of John Banaszak.
Some 15 years later, Coleman is back in the Greater Pittsburgh area again. And this time, he's working on Banaszak's staff at Robert Morris.
"He and I always kept in contact," Coleman said. "It was just the perfect fit all-around."
Coleman's ties to Robert Morris run deeper than his affiliation with Banaszak. He also had ties to defensive coordinator Scott Farison and Andrew Richardson, and his brother Anthony Coleman started at wide receiver for multiple years at RMU. Oh, and Cornelius Coleman also earned his master's degree at RMU while spending five years in an administrative role as the director of undergraduate enrollment and inside the compliance office in the athletic department.
It was while he worked in that role at Robert Morris that Coleman got the itch to return to the football field.
"It was one of those things where I love working with young men and women, love being able to help them grow as future leaders and everything," Coleman said. "I was great working in athletic administration, but it was tough being able to sit there and watch it from the stands."
Coleman's old coach at Waynesburg, Mike Dunlevy, was now the head coach at Division III Averett University in Virginia. Dunlevy offered Coleman a spot on the Averett staff, and by 2013, he was the associate head coach to go along with his defensive line duties.
Averett had a coaching change in the offseason and Banaszak wanted an experienced defensive line coach to help push the linemen forward.
"My role when Coach Banny brought me in was just to tune up some of the techniques," Coleman said. "It's my job not to just make them better football players, but make them better technicians."
The return to Robert Morris and the chance to work alongside Banaszak in the post-Joe Walton era has Coleman excited.
"I love it. It's like a brand new breath of fresh air in a sense. Coach Walton put down his footprints and did a great job, not only as a coach but as a leader," Coleman said. "With our younger group that's here, this is a new era so to speak. It's exciting."
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at email@example.com.