Putting together a very productive season with 38 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns, he is ranked second nationally with his 22.13 yards per catch average, Coates said while Gus Malzahn being back on the Plains has obviously made a big impact on his numbers the biggest thing for him has been what he has done on and off the field.
"I think I focus more and I concentrate more now because last year I wasn't really there," Coates said. "Coach (Dameyune) Craig came in, he got me to start focusing and play my game. That is one thing I did. I thank Coach Craig for all he's done this year. He helped get everything under control and me to focus on what I'm supposed to do."
Part of a first year coaching staff that has made a positive impact on this year's team, Craig has done wonders with his wide receivers after coming back to his alma mater from Florida State. Passionate about the game of football and about Auburn, Coates said Craig's influence has been felt far and wide by his wide receivers in the short time they've been working with him.
"He's going to be real with you no matter what it is," Coates said. "He's going to tell you how it is. That's one thing about him. He's a very great coach, he's going to be honest with you and tell you what you're not doing right or what you're doing right. He is going to do his best to help you fix it.
"He really made me grow up a lot," Coates added. "I knew I had to step up and grow up. He just helped me do that. I had to take another step in my life, grow up and become a better man. That's one thing he helped me do."
Sammie Coates came to Auburn from Leroy High, where he was a three-sport star.
There hasn't been much to fix for Coates this season as he has been the most consistent of Auburn's receivers and developed into more than just a deep threat. Doing a much better job of running after the catch and showing the knack for being physical with the ball in his hands, his 841 receiving yards are the ninth-most in a single season in Auburn history. While he is not the only weapon at receiver for the Tigers, Coates has established himself as one of the go-to guys for Marshall and that has been a big plus for the offense.
"We've got so many great playmakers on the outside, just the opportunities I get, I take advantage of it," Coates said. "I don't look it as me being a playmaker, I just look at it as going out there, giving me a chance and finishing a play. That's good for all our guys. Ricardo Louis is a great playmaker and he's just got to go out there and make plays. We have so much talent in one room, it's kinda hard to have one designated guy to go to."
One of the reasons why Coates has taken his play to another level is his knowledge of the game has improved by working with Craig. Being a former quarterback Craig understands the ins and outs of what that Marshall is looking for out of his wide receivers and what makes the offense work. Coates said because of that he has been able to improve the quarterback-receiver relationship on the field.
"He's a very smart man," Coates said of Craig. "He played the game so he knows exactly where a wide receiver needs to be with the timing and the cut and all that. He helped us out a lot because he knows that coming from a quarterback. It's big."
Coates is the epitome of what Auburn football is all about in 2013. Improved as a player, person and student, the redshirt sophomore said it's hard to talk about what the Tigers have accomplished without starting at the top with Coach Gus Malzahn. Putting all the pieces of the puzzle in place and the man the players were confident would turn things around, Malzahn's impact on Coates is something he said goes beyond the white lines and victories.
"He's a great role model," the wider receiver said. "I look up to Coach Malzahn because of the things he does. He always makes sure we do the right thing, he always make sure we help others and that's one thing I took into my life. It's not all about us, we've got people around us that look up to us every day. You can't take the wrong mindset out there to the world, so I always take the positive mindset like Coach Malzahn does. It's just helped out a lot."