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Auburn's Sammie Coates impresses on and off the field
Jan. 22, 2015

Sammie Coates impressing NFL types at the Senior Bowl this his week

By Charles Goldberg

MOBILE, Ala.  Sammie Coates was asked which NFL teams he had spoken with. The Ravens? Yes. The Titans? Sure. The Browns? Absolutely. 

"I'm feel comfortable talking to any of them," Coates says.

Most every NFL team will check in with Sammie Coates during Senior Bowl activities this week, and that's where the Auburn receiver and good guy will score even more points than the ones he'll collect on the football field.

Sammie Coates could be a first-round NFL draft pick because of his athletic ability. His good work as a guy who visits hospitals and schools, and often does community service without fanfare, will impress, too.

"Anyone who meets Mr. Coates loves him," says Dameyune Craig, his receivers coach at Auburn. "He definitely has a big heart. He wants to help everyone."

"To be honest, sometimes it gets to him when he can't affect people's lives in a positive way. I've had to constantly remind him in practice just to stay focused on the positive things in life. Sometimes he sees people in need and he really wants to help. I just tell him, 'Hey, every time you score a touchdown or catch a ball you look in the stands and you bring a lot of joy to people...not only the ones in the stands, but the people watching on TV. You make them happy. You help their lives. You help their pain.' I think that's what drives him. That's a blessing to have that type of personality to want to help people."

NFL scouts, coaches and front-office types have a reason to watch Coates on the field. He's 6-foot-2, 213 pounds and fast. He had 34 catches for an Auburn-best 741 receiving yards in 2014. He'll leave Auburn with a three-year total of 82 catches for 1,757 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's carrying that into Senior Bowl week, too.

"I'm enjoying every minute of it. It's getting better every day," Coates said.

It was ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. who floated the idea Tuesday that Coates could be a first-round selection.

"It just makes me work harder. I'm just going to keep proving myself that I'm a first-round pick. That's what I can do every day I'm out here," Coates said.

"I always want to be the best. That's my mentality when I get on this field."

Craig, a Senior Bowl visitor Wednesday, says he found a different Sammie Coates when he and a then-new Auburn coaching staff arrived two seasons back. Coates wondered if he wanted to play the game.

"I don't think he realized he could be a top pick in the NFL," Craig said. 

Coates followed Craig's lead.

"Anytime you can change a kid's life, it makes you feel good. I've seen this kid grow the last two years," Craig said. One of Craig's favorite memories since? Sitting in the audience and watching Coates walk across the stage and graduate. 

Now, "he's going to do exciting things on the next level."

"Sammie just needs to continue to have a great week at the Senior Bowl," Craig says.

Craig says he's seen people question Craig's catching ability.

"I don't know exactly where that came from, but Sammie did a great job the last two years catching. When he goes to the Combine and runs well and jumps well, it should put him in the first round."

Coates wasn't fully healthy in 2014, at least not most of it. Auburn had to nurse a sore knee. He wore a knee brace until Craig took it off before the Alabama game. Either way, Coates was plenty good enough.

"They say, 'He didn't dive for that ball because he's not 100 percent. He was hurt.' I say, 'Well, I guess the guy who was five yards behind him must have had a broken leg, because he was still outrunning everybody," Craig said. "If you can outrun somebody by four or five yards, that's open. That's really open.  

"It's really hard to judge his speed. It doesn't look like he's running as fast. I didn't realize that until I would do drills. I realized after his first step he'd be full speed. 

"I said, 'Coach Malzahn, he may be the fastest guy on the football team.' He said, 'Dameyune, I don't know.' I said, 'Coach, trust me.' He may be the fastest guy on the team. He can get top speed really, really fast."

Plus, Craig said, "He's a team player. He was willing to be in an offense where he was able to sometimes demand double coverage to get his teammates open, he would block when he was asked to block. He wasn't a selfish guy. He didn't ask for the football. He's graduated from college. He's done some great things with his life. He's an all-around good person.

"He'd just bring a good spirit to your locker room. The athletic ability and all the football stuff that comes with it is great, but I think he brings even more off the field."

Charles Goldbeg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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