Coates Says He and Receiver Group Improving

Sammie Coates was impressive last season, but the junior wide receiver says the best is yet to come.

Auburn, Ala.--While it's unlikely that Sammie Coates can make a statistical jump to match what happened from his redshirt freshman season to his sophomore year, the junior and Auburn's wide receiver group as a whole look to be improved as they prepare for their 2014 football schedule.

In 2012 Coates caught six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Last season he was a key player in Auburn going from worst to first in the SEC as he caught 42 passes for 902 yards and seven scores.

Coates was a big-play threat for the Tigers last season.

After performing well throughout his team's 15 days of spring practice, Coates is expected to be one of top receivers in the SEC this fall. The junior notes that he expects the wide receivers, as a group, to be a challenge for opposing defenses to handle.

"Every day in the spring we got better, which was one of our goals," said Coates, who noted the improvement has been constant under the direction of Dameyune Craig, who took over as the position coach for the wide receivers last spring when that was considered a problem area for the 2013 Tigers.

However, by the time the season arrived the receivers were better and that improvement continued during what turned out to be an SEC championship season.

"We grew up a lot," Coates said. "We had a lot of guys step up and bring more to the table. When we started playing together we get out there and compete against each other, and that makes us all better."

Newcomer D'haquille "Duke" Williams has certainly brought "more to the table" this spring. The juco All-American's play was one of the highlights of spring training. Coates said the Tigers are glad to have Williams in the wide receiver group.

"He is just a playmaker," Coates said of the juco All-American. "He doesn't care about the hype--the dude just goes out there and plays ball. He brings a lot of energy to the team."

Williams caught five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown in the A-Day Game.

The other new addition to the receivers is freshman Stanton Truitt, who also enrolled in January. "He is a playmaker, too, and is going to help us win," Coates said of the early high school graduate who played quarterback last fall at Monroe Area High in Georgia.

Coates caught two passes for 29 yards on A-Day, including one of the highlights of scrimmage when he made a one-handed grab in the end zone for a touchdown as he showed the leaping ability that made him an outstanding basketball player at Leroy High School.

Coates makes a touchdown pass in Auburn's spring game.

"Our wide receiver coach tells us when the ball is in the air we have to make plays and that is what I did," said Coates, who will likely get plenty of opportunities to catch passes this year with Nick Marshall becoming more effective as a passer.

"He is throwing the ball so good now we just want to be a part of it every chance we get," Coates said of Marshall, who threw four touchdown passes in the spring game.

As a sophomore Coates finished seventh in Auburn history for single-season receiving yards (902), TD catches (seven) in a season and fourth in yards per catch at 21.48 yards. However, Coates said he is more interested in looking ahead.

"Last year is over with," he pointed out. "This is a new start so I look at as another opportunity for me to show the world what I can do. I don't think about last season at all. It's gone. I am worrying about what is in front of me and all the opportunities I have got ahead. I am just going to keep working hard to get better every day."

The junior noted that he believes Auburn fans will see a better version of Sammie Coates when he takes the field on opening day vs. Arkansas this year.

"I have improved a lot," he said. "I know how to control my body. I know how to come out of breaks. I know how to shed (defensive players) with my feet and make different cuts."

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