For the third consecutive season, the University of Massachusetts has had a football player taken in the National Football League draft.
Offensive lineman Larnel Coleman was expected to be a late draft pick, and the tackle was taken in the seventh round by the Miami Dolphins. He was the third player taken in the seventh round by Miami. He was also the second offensive lineman taken by the Dolphins, as Notre Dame tackle Liam Eichenberg was taken with the 42nd overall pick in the second round. They were the only linemen selected by Miami.
“I ain’t going to lie, it’s really just magical” to be drafted, Coleman said in a video conference with members of the Miami media. “It was a little stressful throughout the day. Just hearing my name called by this team, it meant so much to me.
“I can’t wait to work once I get down there and whatnot. It’s really a blessing.”
Coleman, who played both left and right tackle for the Minutemen, becomes the sixth player since UMass became a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision to be drafted. He is also the third player in as many years to be drafted by an NFL team.
Isaiah Rodgers, a cornerback with the Indianapolis Colts, was a sixth-round selection in last year’s draft. Wide receiver Andy Isabella was taken in the second round by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.
If Coleman can stick in Miami, he would be the fourth Minuteman to have been drafted and currently find themselves on an NFL team. Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, who was taken by Tennessee in the sixth round back in 2016, had been on the practice squad of the Kansas City Chiefs, but recently signed a contract with the team.
Before Sharpe, tight end Rob Blanchflower was taken in the seventh round of the 2014 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but injuries curtailed his career before it really began. Running back Michael Cox was a seventh-round pick of the New York Giants back in 2013. Cox played two seasons in the NFL for the Giants.
Coleman, a native of Malden, was measured at 6-foot-6, 307 pounds. According to NFL.com, Coleman had a grade of 5.92, which puts him at the top of the backup/special team designation. He reportedly measured out a wingspan of 84 7/8 inches, bench pressed 24 reps of 225 pounds, and ran a 5.1-second time in the 40-yard dash.
Speaking to reporters in Amherst after UMass’ spring game on Saturday, coach Walt Bell said that Coleman being drafted can only help UMass’ football fortunes as it tries to get on a winning track.
“The recruiting business is about fulfilling young people’s dreams,” Bell said. “For a large majority of them, they dream of going to the NFL. Two or three years in a row, you have a chance to prove to kids they can accomplish their dreams here at the University of Massachusetts.”
Miami was one of 16 NFL teams that went to what turned out to be a pretty successful Pro Day inside the football practice bubble at UMass. Not only did Coleman get drafted, but linebacker Jarvis Miller signed a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers shortly after the Pro Day. Miller’s last year of eligibility was 2019, and the linebacker did not get drafted in 2020.
Coleman was asked by a Dolphins beat reporter what he would bring from Amherst to South Beach.
“Being a UMass guy, we’re underrated. I’m definitely going to come and give my all to this team,” Coleman said. “I’ve got to make sure I get to know my teammates the best I can and really try to get this season going on the best foot possible.
“I’m really trying to go in there and do whatever the team needs me to do — to try and make a difference.”
Coleman isn’t the only New England football player drafted by the Dolphins. Boston College tight end Hunter Long was Miami’s third-round pick in the draft.