Memphis, TN-University of Memphis junior linebacker Ryan Coleman, who helped spark a Memphis comeback which fell just short last week against SMU, received conference and national recognition on Monday.
Coleman was named the National Linebacker of the Week and the National Defensive Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. He was also named to the American Athletic Conference’s five-player Honor Roll for a game which included tying an NCAA record.
Coleman became the first NCAA FBS player since 2004 to recover two fumbles and return both for touchdowns. The feat tied an NCAA record previously set by three other student-athletes.
Late in the third quarter, Coleman took the ball out of the hands of an SMU rusher and returned the ball 15 yards for a touchdown for the Tigers’ first touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, he returned a fumbled punt return 19 yards for a second score.
The back-to-back defensive and special teams’ touchdowns allowed Memphis to slice into SMU’s lead as the Tigers went from trailing 34-3 to 34-16 with 9:40 to play.
Coleman, a native of Rialto, Calif., who played last season at Riverside Community College, also had four tackles in the game.