Sammie Coates set 'to take another step' by turning pro
Dec. 15, 2014
Sammie Coates talks Monday about jumping into the NFL Draft
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Sammie Coates caught a lot of passes, graduated Saturday and is moving on.
The Auburn junior receiver said Monday he'll enter his name in April's NFL Draft. He'll leave Auburn as one of the team's most popular and productive players.
"I think this is the time for me to take another step in my life, to take that chance," Coates said in announcing his intentions.
He's final Auburn game will be against Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. He was last seen turning in a career game against Alabama when he had five catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
Coates has 30 catches for 717 yards and four touchdowns this season despite being slowed part of the time by a sore knee. Like last year, he's one of the nation's top receivers per reception, averaging 23.9 yards per catch, good for third in the nation. He led Auburn last year with team highs in catches, with 42; in yards, 902; and with seven receiving touchdowns. His 21.5-yard per catch was third in the nation last year.
He has 1,733 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in his Auburn career.
Coates praised head coach Gus Malzahn and receivers coach Dameyune Craig. "They've done a great job with me and built me into who I am today.
"I just want to thank Auburn University, the fans and all the people that supported me. Just being in the situation I'm in, I just give all the credit to God above for blessing me with this opportunity," Coates said.
"I got a diploma. That's what you come to college for. You get this chance to come to a D-I school, you get a chance to graduate and play football at the same time. The most important thing, Coach Malzahn always preaches to us to get your education. He always preaches school first and I graduated in three-and-a-half years and I did a great job on the football field because Coach Malzahn gave me a chance and Coach Craig kept pushing me."
Malzahn said he's seen his redshirt junior grow.
"It just seems like yesterday that a real quiet, skinny kid from Leroy, Alabama, was up in our office," Malzahn said. "I think he was either a two-star or a three-star and after a camp we offered him. I'm real proud.
"He's represented Auburn football in a great way. He's represented us off the field in a great way. He's got a bright future. So I'm real proud of him. He's got his degree, like he said. That was very important to Sammie, so we're very excited for him and his future. We've got him for one more game and I know that he's going to be ready to play and go out with a bang."
Coates said he didn't let projections on where he may be drafted influence his decision. Some projections have Coates going in the first two rounds.
"That’s just how they feel about me right now. I’ve still got a lot to work on and a lot to improve on as a player, but it’s going to happen," Coates said.
"Being a player, you are always going to have something to work on, no matter what anyone says. On the inside, I do know what I have to work on. I'm going to work on it and become a great player like I know I can be."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine