August 28, 2014
No. 3: Coates
|BUNKER rank ||BM rank ||AD rank ||JGT rank |
|3 ||2 ||10 ||3 |
Savor this season.
That has to be the message for Auburn fans who are (justifiably) smitten with junior wideout Sammie Coates, who really is the embodiment of an Auburn star. Think about it -- mostly overlooked in high school, coaches coaxed him away from a Southern Miss commitment, graduate of rural Leroy High, speaks softly, electrifies on the field. Yeah, that's exactly the kind of player Tigers fans want to adore and he's certainly one of the program's most popular players.
He's also one of the best.
Coates is, at times, unguardable downfield. Players like Coates are the reason people like Auburn assistant coach Melvin Smith often avoid recruiting defensive backs shorter than 6 feet tall. Coates stands 6-foot-2, has Olympic-level leaping ability and long arms. Even great defensive backs who position themselves properly cannot defend accurate, high passes thrown to Coates. He gets up higher than anyone else and he's skilled at making those kinds of plays. Yes, it's a skill and, yes, Coates has developed it.
Still, that's only one phase of his game. Coates also is among the fastest players in all of college football and capable of traversing 40 yards in less than 4.4 seconds -- on his slowest day. He was hand timed in the 4.2 range this summer. I'm genuinely interested to see how fast he runs at the NFL Combine next February.
Next February? Absolutely. Coates already is coveted by professional teams because he's exactly what they want. He's long, tall, fast and has demonstrated genuine ability to fend off defenders in phase to make important catches. He applies his skills on the field. By that, I mean he's not just some freak athlete; he's a freak athlete who understands how to play the position well.
What about this season? Coates is going to be a major area of concern for every single defense Auburn plays this season. Nick Marshall has plenty of arm strength and Coates' ability to make plays down the field -- not just catch balls but make plays -- gives the Tigers an important advantage.
- Jay G. Tate
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