Decorated Wrestler Adam Coon Aims to Pin Down Job With Titans

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NASHVILLE – Adam Coon has the traits.

Now, the Titans want to see if the decorated wrestler has what it takes to pin down a job in the NFL.

He wouldn't be the first.

"Wrestlers," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said, "especially at that elite level, have unbelievable balance, core strength, things that I think would translate well to an offensive lineman."

The Titans signed Coon, a three-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Michigan, to a contract earlier this month.

Last week, Coon practiced with the Titans for the first time.

It was Coon's first time on a football field since playing high school football.

Until recently, Coon's focus had been on wrestling. He compiled a 116-15 record during college career, and earlier this year he earned a spot on the men's Olympic wrestling team, but he failed to qualify for the 2021 Olympic Games through the World Olympic Qualifier last month in Sofia, Bulgaria, a last-chance qualification tournament for this summer's Olympics in Tokyo.

Even though he did not play football in college at Michigan, in the past he kept a return to football in mind as an option.

And his agent made that known to NFL teams.

"Having not played the game, there's a lot development that has to go on pretty quickly for him to compete," Vrabel said. "But he's got a great attitude. He shows up, he competes, he goes hard, and he just might not know what to do all the time. I think we just have to continue to coach him and develop him and see what we can get out of him, and how he develops."

A 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, Coon is expected to compete in the interior of the offensive line, most likely at guard.

At Fowlerville High School (Michigan), Coon was named all-state linebacker (2012) and all-time honorable mention offensive line (2010, '11) while playing on the school's football team. He was also named 2013 All-Livingston County Defensive Player of the Year and four-time all-league offensive lineman and defensive lineman/linebacker. In high school, Coon was also a four-time state champion in wrestling and named the Detroit Athletic Club High School Athlete of the Year (2013) as a senior.

During a video conference call last week, Vrabel reminded everyone Coon isn't the first wrestler attempting to establish himself in the NFL.

In fact, Vrabel's former teammate with the Patriots, Stephen Neal, did it with plenty of success.

Vrabel played with the New England Patriots from 2001 to 2008, while Neal played for the team from 2001 to 2010. Like Coon, Neal played high school football but never in college while concentrating on wrestling.

Neal was a four-time All-American at Cal State Bakersfield and a two-time NCAA champion who played in 86 games, with 81 starts, during his NFL career, working primarily at guard. He won three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.

Former Titans fullback Lorenzo Neal earned All-American honors at the 1992 NCAA wrestling tournament while also playing football at Fresno State. Several other notable past NFL players also had wrestling backgrounds.

"Just wanted to try to take a look at Adam," Vrabel said. "I followed his wrestling career for a while. Something we looked at and, again, I was a part of as a player, taking a former wrestler and they developed into an offensive lineman with Stephen Neal."

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