TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — It's impossible to question Keon Coleman's decision to leave Michigan State now.
The standout receiver, who landed at Florida State in May because he considered coach Mike Norvell's team “one piece away," provided an immediate impact in his Seminoles debut. The junior caught nine passes for 122 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in FSU's 45-24 drubbing of then-No. 5 LSU on Sunday night.
He dazzled dozens of NFL scouts and thousands of FSU fans who made the trip to Camping World Stadium in Orlando. He also boosted the Seminoles' chances of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference and making the College Football Playoff.
Given Coleman's start, he might be one and done in Tallahassee and a first-round draft pick next April. In the meantime, the now-fourth-ranked Seminoles just hope he keeps doing what he did against the Tigers. They host Southern Miss (1-0) on Saturday.
“Really just being thankful for the opportunity,” Coleman said. “Coach saying yes to me, coming to a new school after the transfer portal and believing in me."
Norvell immediately chimed in, adding “I’m grateful for you saying yes, too.”
Coleman became the first Florida State player with three TD receptions in a game since Auden Tate accomplished the feat against Southern Miss in 2017. The latest scoring trio perfectly showcased Coleman's versatility.
He slipped two tackles on a 40-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. He won a jump ball for a 21-yard score in the second. And he used his body to gain leverage before hauling in a 7-yard fade pass early in the fourth.
And if the primetime stage and top-10 matchup weren't enough motivation, the opponent surely helped. Coleman, who grew up in Opelousas, Louisiana, wasn't recruited by LSU coming out of high school or while he was in the transfer portal.
“I took it as (another) game," Coleman said. "But it added a little salt to the wound. That’s my home state. A lot of my family are fans of them, but I ain’t so much of a fan of them. I’m a Seminole now.”
Norvell has rebuilt Florida State's once-proud program, which last won the 2013 national title, with plenty of portal help. Quarterback Jordan Travis (Louisville), running back Trey Benson (Oregon), receiver Johnny Wilson (Arizona State), tight end Jaheim Bell (South Carolina), defensive end Jared Verse (Albany), defensive tackle Braden Fiske (Western Michigan) and cornerback Fentrell Cypress (Virginia) are among a slew of transfers now starting — and starring — in Tallahassee.
None of them enjoyed a debut like the 6-foot-4 Coleman, a three-sport high school star who was deep on basketball coach Tom Izzo's bench at Michigan State during the 2021-22 season. He finally settled on football in 2022 and finished with 58 catches for 798 yards and seven touchdowns. He entered the portal following spring practice in April.
“We knew who he was, and we knew he was a very difficult matchup for us,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “Excellent ball skills. A matchup problem for us and he presented that kind of problem.”
Coleman dominated actually and proved how big a loss he was for Michigan State, how special a find he was for the Seminoles and what kind of headache he can be for defenses this season.
“I’m always pulling for him,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said Monday. “I’m very close with him, I recruited him myself. I’m close with he and his family so I was really, really excited for him. I was really happy for him.”
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll