MSU’s top 50 football players: No. 5 Don Coleman

This is the 46th in a 50-day summer series counting down the top players in Michigan State football history, as I see them. As with last year’s MSU basketball top 50, the criteria is performance and impact at MSU only, professional career irrelevant. Have your own opinion? Leave a comment or tweet at me @Graham_Couch.

No. 5 – Don Coleman

Tackle, 1949-51, Flint

The skinny: There is little about Coleman that fits with college football today, beyond the plethora of legendary black athletes out of Flint and elsewhere that followed him to MSU. Coleman was a 5-foot-10, 185-pound pulling tackle (not exactly Flozell Adams). In 1951, he became MSU’s first unanimous All-American — its first black All-American — and finished runner-up in the Outland Trophy voting as the nation’s best lineman. He was the MVP of MSU’s 9-0 ’51 season, which resulted in a No. 2 national ranking and several outlets crowning the Spartans national champions. And he never left the field. On offense, Coleman became known for his sweeping chop blocks, sometimes taking out three defenders on the same play. “I could outrun most of the backs,” he once said. On defense, Michigan coach Bennie Oosterbaan claimed the Big Ten had never seen a better tackler than Coleman — and Coleman never even played in the Big Ten. In a win over Penn State in 1951, Coleman recorded every MSU tackle on punts and kickoffs. The “60-minute man,” he was dubbed. – Read more at

Here is the rest of Graham’s rankings …
No. 6: Andre Rison
No. 7: Bubba Smith
No. 8: Percy Snow
No. 9: Brad Van Pelt
No. 10: Tony Mandarich
No. 11: Connor Cook
No. 12: Javon Ringer
No. 13: Kirk Cousins
No. 14: Gene Washington
No. 15: Dan Bass
No. 16: Kirk Gibson
No. 17: Julian Peterson
No. 18: Sherm Lewis
No. 19: Plaxico Burress
No. 20: T.J. Duckett
No. 21: Lynn Chandnois
No. 22: Le’Veon Bell
No. 23: Clinton Jones
No. 24: Max Bullough
No. 25: Blake Ezor
No. 26: Flozell Adams
No. 27: Larry Bethea
No. 28: Tico Duckett
No. 29: Carl Banks
No. 30: Sedrick Irvin
No. 31: Jeremy Langford
No. 32: Dan Currie
No. 33: B.J. Cunningham
No. 34: Earl Morrall
No. 35: Joe DeLamielleure
No. 36: Ed Budde
No. 37: Eric Allen
No. 38: Walt Kowalczyk
No. 39: Charlie Thornhill
No. 40: Jack Conklin
No. 41: John Pingel
No. 42: Billy Joe DuPree
No. 43: Trae Waynes
No. 44: George Saimes
No. 45: Greg Jones
No. 46: Ed Smith
No. 47: Bob Apisa
No. 48: Derrick Mason
No. 49: Ed Bagdon
No. 50: Denicos Allen

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