Not often does an interior defensive lineman lead a football team in tackles.

But then again, not many teams have a player with the size and speed of Coleman Tennyson.

At Columbus North, Tennyson has been his own wrecking crew so far this season. The 6-foot-2, 289-pounder leads the Bull Dogs with 23 tackles, including three sacks, in two games.

“I’m in better condition than I was last year,” Tennyson said. “As a team, we ran a lot more and lifted a lot more this season. That’s helped a lot.”

In a season-opening 52-7 rout of Franklin, Tennyson recorded nine tackles, including three for losses and two sacks. Then in Friday’s 30-13 victory against Columbus East, he had 14 tackles.

The effort against the Olympians earned Tennyson MVP honors for the Great American Rivalry Series.

“Coleman has definitely risen up and played to the caliber of his athleticism, of his size, strength and speed,” North coach Tim Bless said. “He’s playing with an energy and a motor that he’s never played with before, and fundamentally, he’s playing better than he’s ever played before.”

Tennyson began playing football at age 6. He’s been a defensive lineman his entire career and also played offensive tackle in eighth grade.

At North, Tennyson is in his third year as a starting defensive tackle.

“Really, D-line is just action every play,” Tennyson said. “So that’s what I like about it.”

Bless said Tennyson has the ability to get off the ball.

“He has quick hands, and now that he has decided to use them every snap of the game, he has a great combination of first-step quickness and size and strength,” Bless said.

Keenan Noel, a former North and Ball State standout, is helping coach the Bull Dogs’ defensive linemen this season. He agreed that Tennyson is starting to see some of that strength after starting to use his hands.

Noel also is impressed with Tennyson’s mindset.

“He’s not a guy that’s really satisfied,” Noel said. “You can see him digging even deeper when a lot of people don’t, and I think that’s going to carry him a long way throughout this whole season and the future.”

That future is up in the air. Despite his size, speed and performance on the field, Tennyson has yet to pick up his first college scholarship offer.

Playing college football remains a goal.

“Hopefully by the end of this season, I’ll have a couple (offers),” Tennyson said.

Tennyson also has goals to continue putting up double-digit tackles every game and to help the team go undefeated in the regular season and as far as it can in the postseason.

With a 2-0 record, North, ranked No. 9 in Class 6A, is off to a strong start. Friday’s win against then-5A No. 3 East was the Bull Dogs’ first against the Olympians since 2011.

“We just have to keep rolling and not worry about whatever happened this past weekend,” Tennyson said. “We just have to keep doing our job.”

Coleman Tennyson

Name: Coleman Tennyson

School: Columbus North

Year: Senior

Position: Defensive tackle

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 289

Sports: Football, track and field

Favorite sport: Football

Favorite athlete: Cameron Wake

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5628.