It's been two years since Auburn offensive lineman Shon Coleman was diagnosed with leukemia. He was one of the highest rated offensive linemen in 2010 and could have seen early playing time.
But just a few weeks after he signed with the Tigers, Coleman learned of his disease and had to defer his enrollment until 2011 while he underwent chemotherapy and radiation.
On Wednesday, Coleman, whose cancer is in remission, made his Auburn practice debut in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Clad in shorts, a shell and a helmet per the NCAA's acclimation rules, Coleman participated in football for the first time since his senior year of high school.
"We're going to take baby steps," coach Gene Chizik said. "We're going to take orders from our medical staff. We're not going to predict anything right now — we're just going to take it day-by-day and get him acclimated. It's been two-plus years since he's put on a uniform. We're just thrilled to have him out there."
Apparently assistant coach Jeff Grimes didn't feel the need for an acclimation period and put Coleman through the same grueling non-contact drills he would any other player. When it was all over, teammates were moved by Coleman's presence on the field.
"That really was amazing — just to see him stand up at the end of practice with his pads on," linebacker Ashton Richardson said. "It lit something inside of me to see that. He went through so much with cancer and everything like that. It's encouragement. It gives everybody around a little more energy to go out there and realize that you can overcome."
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