It’s been almost nine years since Adam Coon last donned a football helmet and pads. Now, he’ll look to do so in the National Football League.
The Tennessee Titans announced Friday afternoon they had agreed to terms with Coon, a former All-American wrestler at Michigan. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder is expected to compete for a spot as an interior offensive lineman, per The Tennessean.
Coon was a star football player at Fowlerville High School, 40 minutes from Ann Arbor. He was an All-State linebacker in 2012 and an honorable mention lineman in 2010 and 2011, but left the sport after high school to focus exclusively on wrestling.
He went on to post a 116-15 record for the Wolverines at heavyweight. His 116 wins is 22nd on Michigan’s all-time leaderboard, and his .885 winning percentage is sixth. Coon was an All-American in 2015, 2016 and 2018, and an NCAA Finalist in 2015 and 2018. He was also a two-time Big Ten runner-up.
At the Junior World Championships in 2014, Coon won the bronze medal in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling at 120 kilograms (264 pounds). After graduating from Michigan, he embarked fully on an international career. He finished second in the 130-pound weight class in Greco-Roman at the 2018 world championships, won the gold there at the 2019 Pan-American Games, and took the silver in 2020.
In April, Coon won the U.S. Olympic Trials at 130 kilograms, earning him a spot on the national team. But he later failed to qualify for the Olympics after losing in the quarterfinals of the World Olympic Qualifier in Bulgaria in May.
Coon kept a return to football open as an option in the past, per the Titans’ press release.
There’s some precedent for what Coon is attempting to do. Stephen Neal, a two-time heavyweight champion at Cal State Bakersfield, didn’t play college football, but signed with the New England Patriots in 2001 and went on to have a 10-year career as an NFL offensive lineman. Another non-college football player, Carlton Haselrig, won six NCAA titles in wrestling and was a Pro Bowl lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992.