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Shon Coleman beat cancer and is finally ready to take on the NFL Draft

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The offensive tackle from Auburn has been waiting six years for this year.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Shon Coleman has faced the litany of media, medical poking and mock draft rumors just like every other NFL prospect, but the offensive lineman's journey to the draft has been anything but ordinary.

In 2010, like thousands of other incoming freshmen, Coleman was eagerly awaiting his chance to begin his college career. The Mississippi native wouldn't make it to Auburn's campus that fall, however. Earlier that spring, he was diagnosed with acute lymphocyte leukemia. An estimated 3,590 new cases of this specific leukemia will be diagnosed among males in the United States in 2016, having affected 1 in 415 males younger than 49 years of age between 2010 and 2012.

After two-plus years of treatment at St. Jude’ Children'’s Hospital in Memphis, Coleman finally got a chance to suit up for the Tigers in 2012. Despite being medically cleared in the spring, he redshirted his first season to get back in football shape, and was listed as a backup left tackle heading into the 2013 season.

At this year's NFL Combine, Coleman reminisced about his first practice back.

"It was great, man just being out there again with my teammates, just getting back in that football atmosphere," Coleman said. "I'll never forget that day, very exciting."

Almost four years since he had played his last snap, Coleman took the field for the first time with the Auburn Tigers on Sept 9, 2013. In the fourth quarter, with Auburn up by several scores, Coleman entered the game at left tackle. Auburn went on to score a touchdown that drive, and the football community as a whole celebrated Coleman's triumphant debut.

Coleman started 25 games over his last two seasons and was voted second team all-SEC selection in 2015. He still had one season of eligibility left when he declared for the draft, but at 24 years old and with two college degrees -- he received his bachelor's degree in May 2014 and his master's degree in December of 2015 -- Coleman decided it was time to head to the NFL.

Coleman thinks that the whole ordeal made him a better football player.

"Now I don't take life for granted. It can get taken away from you as quick as that. I got another opportunity to play football again, I just took on the opportunity and did a great job with it the past couple years."

Six years after his diagnosis, the 6'6, 307-pound offensive tackle is considered one of the top OT prospects heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. SB Nation's own Dan Kadar as his ranked as No. 8 best player at his position and the No. 69 overall prospect.

Coleman was supposed to make the post-college rounds, with invitations to both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Unfortunately, the tackle had to have a procedure to repair a torn ACL, which kept him off the field at both scouting events, in addition to Auburn's pro day. He was able to speak to the media and perform the bench press -- with 22 reps -- during his time at the Combine, but wasn't cleared for action until mid-April.

He said he was disappointed that he wasn't able to show off for scouts.

"It was something I was looking forward to, I really believe I'm one of the more athletic big men out here and for me not to be able to show that it's very frustrating," Coleman said. "But at the same time I have a plan to come back and get everything ready."

Coleman isn't alone in his fight from cancer to the playing field. Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs missed out on the latter portion of the 2014 season after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, but came back in 2015 to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl. University of Pitt's star running back James Conner missed all but one game last season, also due to a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, and hopes to be healthy and back on the field for the 2016 season.

His knee injury isn't the first obstacle Coleman has had to overcome, and has a solid track record of fighting his way back to health under extremely difficult circumstances.