Malachi Coleman’s long wait is almost over. Adorned in full uniform in the halls of Memorial Stadium, the Lincoln East graduate called being a Husker a dream for a long time. It’s still surreal, after all he’s been through, to be there. But his arrival isn’t the end of the journey.
It hasn’t been an idle wait for Coleman to get to this point, an enrolled freshman at Nebraska. He was one of Nebraska’s most heavily recruited athletes in the 2023 recruiting class, at one point seemingly in line to commit to Georgia. He was at one point the No. 1 athlete in the country years removed from experiencing the pitfalls of the current foster care system. Nebraska finally gained ground last April. Former wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph built a connection with the Coleman family and then became interim head coach. Coleman committed to Nebraska while Joseph led the Huskers and de-committed a day after Joseph was placed on leave stemming from his arrest. Coleman built a connection with Matt Rhule and his coaching staff. He ultimately committed again to Nebraska on Early Signing Day.
Coleman told Jessica Coody on a recent episode of Sports Nightly that he’s keeping a busy schedule at Nebraska since his arrival. He enjoys the structure of meetings, schools and football that he didn’t much of when he was growing up. He said seniors on the team already met with incoming freshmen. Quarterback Jeff Sims, a junior, sat in on that meeting. The front runner for Nebraska’s starting job wanted to get to know the team better.
The former Spartan regrets not enrolling this last spring. He made the decision because he wanted one last high school track season. A hamstring injury shut down his season. He instead watched every Nebraska spring practice to “get mental reps,” he explained. He wanted to see how the coaches coach, how the players responded and where he fit into all of it. From that vantage point he gained an extra degree of appreciation for wide receivers coach Garret McGuire. Coleman called McGuire the most detailed person he’s ever met and trusts his new position coach will be a head coach one day.
“He’s just one of those people that you want to make proud,” Coleman said. “He puts in just as much work into the game as you do and you don’t find that in very many places. He’s a special person.”
The playbook intimidated the freshman but he’s taking it piece by piece. He confessed he has to “pick it up mentally” if he wants to see the field this fall. At the same time he’s not putting pressures on himself. His priority now is maintaining peak physical condition, getting ahead in school and being ready in case the team needs him.
Coody also asked about Coleman’s appearance on the Kelly Clarkson Show. His nonprofit, Fly Like Chi, hosted a watch party in Lincoln for the episode. Within 12 hours of the episode hitting airwaves, his foundation received over $10,000 in donations. Coleman was overwhelmed by the response, admitting he needed to step away from the massive attention.
“I had to shut my phone off and everything,” Coleman said. “I go out anywhere and people want me to sign things and take pictures. I got used to it a little bit more and I love Husker Nation for that.”
Through a harsh upbringing and an eventful recruitment, Coleman is now a Husker. He’s in the Big Ten on scholarship playing football on a massive stage. His nonprofit is off the ground and gaining steam. Now he has to wait just another month until fall camp.