Colman rides fast track to NFL

Doug Colman has kept moving in the coaching profession, and the pace is quicker at each level.

As recently as 2006, he guided Absegami to the South Jersey Group 4 football title, the first in school history.

Doug Colman (shown in 1998) played five seasons in the NFL. He coached Absegami to a South Jersey title in 2006. NFL Photos

After three college coaching stops in the last six years, he is back to a familiar place: the NFL.

Colman, 40, recently was named assistant special-teams coach of the Houston Texans.

"We're excited," Colman said in a phone interview, alluding to himself; his wife, Colleen; and four children (with a fifth on the way in April). "The last couple of years, my family and I moved to a bunch of different places since we left Absegami, and let's hope we can stay here a while."

Colman, an Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey linebacker from Ocean City as a senior in 1990, enjoyed a successful college career at Nebraska and then played for the New York Giants, Tennessee Titans, and Cleveland Browns during five NFL seasons.

His final NFL season was 2000 with Cleveland, and after that, coaching was the farthest thing from his mind.

"When I left the NFL, you feel you need a break from it," Colman said. "I was kind of a little bit burned out and needed time off."

That didn't last long.

His father, Wayne, a former NFL player himself, was the freshman coach at Ocean City at the time. Wayne Colman, who had earlier coached the varsity team but stepped down to watch his son play in college, was recovering from knee surgery and couldn't coach during the 2001 season.

So he asked his son to help coach the team.

"When I did that, I got the coaching bug," Doug Colman said. "All that adrenaline you remember as a player came to me as a coach."

Colman coached the freshmen with Paul Baruffi, the current highly successful girls' basketball coach at Ocean City.

"You could see right away how much football knowledge Doug had," Baruffi said.

Colman spent a year as an assistant coach at Oakcrest, then took over the Absegami program in 2003. After going a combined 14-7 his first two years, Colman had the Braves in the South Jersey Group 4 final in 2005, when they lost, 32-25, in overtime to Cherokee, before beating Cherokee, 27-26, in the final the next year.

After one more season at Absegami, Colman became an assistant linebackers coach for the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe in 2007. He then was hired at his alma mater, Nebraska, as a defensive quality control coach.

After two years coaching at Nebraska, Colman served as a linebackers coach and worked with special teams for two seasons each at Tulane and Coastal Carolina.

What's interesting is that when he left Coastal Carolina for the NFL, Colman was replaced by Ryan Goodman, who played quarterback for him and was also a wrestling standout at Absegami.

After this past college season, Colman interviewed with then-Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien for the Nittany Lions' linebackers coaching job.

"Bill offered me the job, so I was unofficially the linebacker coach for about a week and a half," Colman said.

It wasn't official because Penn State was still conducting background checks and then O'Brien was hired as the Texans' head coach.

Colman must have made an impression, because O'Brien hired him for the Texans.

It seems like yesterday that he was still at Absegami.

"We had players who were good citizens, and we brought some excitement to the school," Colman recalled. "I had a great coaching staff, and our guys bought into what we were doing and it was a great time."

It was also a springboard for a coaching career that remains very much on the fast track.