Sammie Coates is still making catches in Auburn practices this preseason
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ¯ Sammie Coates figures the days of defenses double-teaming him may be over, especially with the addition of Duke Williams and an improving receiving corps.
"It's going to be hard to double team anybody on our team. We have a lot of threats everywhere," says Coates, who led Auburn in catches last season and may be in line for more receptions this year if the Tigers follow through with the promise of an expanded passing game.
Coates averaged 21.5 yards per catch last season. Now, he's joined by a fellow 6-foot-2 receiver in Williams, the top junior college player in the country who is living up to his advance billing in preseason practice.
"He's playing real well. He's catching everything, he's running good routes. He's one of the guys you have to watch out for," Coates said.
"Duke is one of those guys who can run a 4.3. He's got speed. He's one of those guys who is smart with his body. He comes out of breaks real well."
Coates is faster, saying he runs a 4.2 40 and he measures a 44-inch vertical list. He topped a recent Fox Sports' "Freaks" list, for freaky-good athletes, for the 2014 season.
"I'm just trying to do my best and trying to help the team win. Who they think I am, I don't care about any of that," Coates said.
Receivers coach Dameyune Craig says he likes Coates' determination.
"Sammie is a totally different kid than last season. His attitude has changed. His work ethic has changed. His attention to detail has changed. He's an unselfish player. All of them are," Craig said.
Coates is sharing the compliments, saying all the receivers have looked good. And when asked if the though Auburn had the best receiving corps in the SEC, Coates said, "I think we've got the best group in the country."
The receiving corps is so deep, Coates said, he doesn't know who is going to start.
"We don't know what how it's going to be, we're just going to rotate and see what we've got."
Craig has tried all his receivers at different positions, all but Coates, he said. Coates is a big-play wideout.
"We've got so many who can move around," Coates said. "I can move around, too, but it's just me sticking at one spot because we've got so much talent in the wide receiver room. The way we move around it's going to be hard to shut one target down and not worry about somebody else."
The guy who figures to be throwing the ball to Coates and company most of the season is Nick Marshall. Coates predicts Marshall will be better in Year Two.
"Nick came from not knowing the whole offense to knowing everything, from knowing how to read the safety, who he's got to check-down to. He's doing a great job," Coates said. "The way he's throwing the ball now, it's kind of scary."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AbuurnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine