Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Malachi Coleman Picks Nebraska Because of Relationship With Mickey Joseph

October 22, 2022

Hundreds gathered inside the Lincoln East auditorium to hear where Malachi Coleman was going to play football. The 4-star standout and No. 57 recruit in the country sat at a table with six hats in front of him. He caused an audible gasp when he lifted the Oregon hat and commanded the room when he nearly put on the Oklahoma hat.

That’s the young man he’s become. Craig and Miranda Coleman didn’t adopt a room-commanding, trusting, exciting nine-year-old. Malachi and younger sister Navaeh went through an arduous journey, bouncing from home to home before Craig and Miranda. Miranda told the tale of adopting a “little boy who was broken and lost,” when they adopted him 8 years ago.

“A boy who was angry at the world, trusted no one and was resigned to not really being anything,” Miranda said. “Now look at the man sitting at this table.”

Malachi grew to trust and love his adoptive parents. He also grew to trust and love Katie Wenz, the Lincoln East school counselor who helped him navigate his school work through the college visits. He grew to trust Joseph within their first 30 minutes together. The man who came back to Nebraska as the wide receivers coach and became interim head coach earned Coleman’s trust there in the family living room. Coleman took Nebraska more seriously in the last eight months. When he announced his commitment on Saturday to screaming cheers, Joseph wanted to FaceTime.

“I don’t trust very many people, that’s just me, personally,” Coleman said after his announcement. “When you can earn my trust like that, you can get my family behind you, get me behind you, of course I want to come play for you.”

Coleman said his college decision showed those who come through the foster care system that they can achieve anything with the right support system.

“You got people that are going to be in your corner one day and not going to be there the next,” he said. “You’ve got to find people you can trust, day in and day out. That’s why I surround myself with people like that. That’s why I trust Mickey, too.”

Coleman said Joseph changed everything. Six, seven months ago he wasn’t coming to Nebraska. It would have been up to Oklahoma, Oregon and even defending national champion Georgia. Then came Joseph — and only one school had him.

“My relationship I’ve got with Mickey and this coaching staff is untouchable,” Coleman said. “Nobody’s going to have a relationship like we have.”

His upbringing shaped a lot of his outlook on life. He sought clarification on NIL rules so he could create the “Fly Like Chi” camps which raised funds along with his foundation to improve the foster care system. Wenz, his parents, track coach Raymonn Adams and emcee Clint Cosgrove all spoke of the senior’s character. The kid who would walk through fire for those he trusted and help anyone in need. Coleman will continue that work into his college career because he wants to be known for more than just football.

Coleman plans to stay at Lincoln East in the spring and graduate in May so he can go for gold in the state track meet. He hasn’t decided if he’ll play basketball yet.

With Coleman’s decision, Nebraska shot up to No. 38 in the Class of 2023 recruiting rankings, according to 247Sports.

He’s not sure if he’ll play offense or defense yet. In conversations, Joseph said he’d send Coleman out on offense to catch a touchdown and then, on defense, send him out to rush the passer on third down. He loves that idea.

There’s still uncertainty in the Nebraska coaching staff. The school’s conducting a national search for a new head football coach, who would create a hand-picked staff. So why did Coleman choose the school across town?

“Mickey’s going to be here, I know that,” Coleman said. “So that’s why I’m here.”


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