Auburn leading receiver Sammie Coates is back for more
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis. You know them. Big catches. On stage at the ESPYs. Promise of another good year.
But there is more to Auburn receiving corps. There's junior college transfer Duke Williams. He hasn't played a down at Auburn and is already being talked up by his teammates. That's good.
But coach Gus Malzahn sees even more.
"We’ve got probably six to eight guys that have experience in our offense that we feel like we can put in and then they’ll do a good job executing," Malzahn said.
The addition of Williams is a plus on a team that already was returning every wide or slot receiver who caught a pass last season. In fact, the Tigers return every player who caught a pass, regardless of their position, except running backs Tre Mason and Jay Prosch.
Today's Auburn wideouts and slot receivers? Let us count the ways…
There's Coates and Louis and Williams. Quan Bray, Tony Stevens, Stanton Truitt, Melvin Ray, Dominic Walker, Myron Burton and Jaylon Denson.
"For the first time, at least since I've been at Auburn, we've got deep threats at every position we put on the field. Hopefully, that will equate into some big plays in the passing game," Malzahn said.
Malzahn has said Auburn wants to throw more this season, and, to that end, quarterback Nick Marshall has worked on his passing much of the spring and fall.
Receivers coach Dameyune Craig said all his receivers could play multiple positions, except Coates, the flyer who averaged 21.5 yards a catch last season.
Craig's breakdown earlier in August went something like this:
• On Coates: "Sammie is a phenomenal athlete. He has a strong work ethic, also."
• Throw in Williams? "Those two guys bring a lot to the table. They can go down as two of the best to ever play at Auburn if they can continue to make strides and affect the game. I'm looking forward to the season."
• On Louis: "He's a guy we can move around if we wanted to, to different spots and have different matchups. He's tremendous with the ball in his hands. He's very strong. Ricardo focused on catching the football this offseason. He did a lot of work on his own. A lot of footwork drills. He's quicker. He's down about eight pounds, to about 210. He's faster."
• On Denson: "He's worked hard. He's done a great job. I don't want Jaylon to rush himself. He's further along than I thought he'd be. He's come back and made a lot of plays. He still brings a physical presence to the table. He's shown, maybe, more quickness than before he left. He's shown some flashes since he's been back. He's getting better every day. In the next month or so, I think he'll be back to 100 percent.
• On Davis: "A bunch of huge catches last year. Last year was his first season ever playing receiver. He was a high school quarterback. He's really mastered the slot now. He's learning some outside receiver, also."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine