Tusculum sounds like a medical instrument used to examine an
elephant's dental work. In fact, it's a small Presbyterian
liberal arts college in the hills of northeast Tennessee. So
small that no Tusculum football player has ever been drafted by
the NFL. "It would be an honor to be the first Pioneer chosen,"
says Ricardo (Coot) Colclough, who last Saturday became the first
Pioneer to play in the Senior Bowl. "High or low, it doesn't
really matter. I just hope my name is pronounced right."
Though his last name is pronounced COAK-lee, the 6-foot,
186-pound cornerback and kick returner is just as often called
Coal-claw or Coal-cough. At the start of last week's Senior Bowl
workouts in Mobile, many NFL scouts and coaches were calling him
simply the Kid from Tusculum.
A quiet, grinning, do-ragged presence with an unshakable calm,
Colclough can cover 40 yards in 4.26 seconds. He was touted as
the most talented Division II player invited to the Senior Bowl
since 1996, when linebacker John Mobley of Kutztown played in the
game and went on to be a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos.
"The Kid's a talent," said Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis,
who led Colclough's Senior Bowl North squad. "His skills need to
be refined, but he's very responsive to coaches' corrections. He
probably has had to make bigger adjustments than any player in
Mobile this week." Could the Kid from Tusculum cover a wide
receiver from LSU as nimbly as one from Mars Hill?
During the South's 28-10 rout, Colclough played like a kid who
knew he belonged among an elite group of invitees that included
defensive backs Will Allen of Ohio State, Will Poole of USC and
Derrick Strait of Oklahoma. He deflected passes, delivered
thunderous hits and outshone even his most radiant Division I
counterparts. He was voted the North's defensive player of the
February 2, 2004
"Good enough speed, good enough size, good enough agility,"
observed Baltimore Ravens player personnel director Phil Savage.
"He's no sleeper. When I visited Tusculum to watch him this
season, there were already 85 NFL business cards on the desk of
the videotape room."
Many scouts consider Colclough a Day One lock in the draft. "Some
teams will have a problem getting past his level of opponent,"
says Savage. "In a case like his, though, you look for signs of
dominance, and there were many this season."
A highlight film of Colclough's senior year would feature kickoff
returns of 97 and 92 yards for touchdowns against Morehouse
College and an 85-yard punt return for a score against Charleston
Southern, a game in which he also ran back a majestic one-handed
interception 75 yards for a touchdown. He picked off 15 passes in
his two seasons at Tusculum, 11 in 2003.
The Sumter, S.C., native came to Tusculum by way of Kilgore
College, a Texas juco. He had been recruited by Clemson and South
Carolina but got blindsided by grades and settled for Kilgore. He
became a juco All-America and was again courted by big-time
programs but lacked the credit hours to be eligible for a I-A
school. Tusculum gave him a chance to play immediately.
On Saturday, Lewis did too. "He did everything asked of him,"
said the coach, "and he did it well." Afterward the press
surrounded Colclough and peppered him with the usual questions:
Where's Tusculum? Why Division II?
Colclough eyed the reporters as if they were caterpillars in some
salad he was about to partake in. The question arose, "How's your
Colclough frowned meditatively. "If you don't know now," he said
at last, "you'll never know."
Class of '03
Here's how last year's D-II and D-III draftees fared
Player, Pos., School Rd. Team
Drayton Florence, CB, 2 Chargers Faded after good
Tuskegee training camp
Chaun Thompson, LB, 2 Browns Raw talent saw only
West Texas A&M spot duty
Seth Wand, T, 3 Texans Two starts; played
NW Missouri State goal-line TE
Khalid Abdullah, LB, 5 Bengals Solid special-teams
Mars Hill contributor
David Kircus, WR, 6 Lions Three catches in
Grand Valley State five games
Reggie Wells, T, 6 Cardinals 15 games; one
Clarion College fumble recovery
Frank Walker, CB, 6 Giants Seven starts; 2 INTs
Richart Angulo, TE, 7 Rams Claimed on waivers
W. New Mexico by Vikings
Steve Josue, LB, 7 Packers Spent season on
Carson-Newman practice squad
Ryan Hoag, WR, 7 Raiders Now in Arena League