“I decided to come out this year and enter the NFL Draft,” Coates said. “I think it’s important for me to do this. I graduated Saturday and I think it’s the time for me to take another step in my life and take that chance.
“I give all my thanks to all my coaches,” he added. “To Coach (Gus) Malzahn for recruiting me and coming down to Leroy, a small town. Coach (Dameyune) Craig developed me into the great person I am and great wide receiver. He’s done a great job with me and built me into who I am today.”
With his degree in hand, Coates said it made the decision a much easier one for him. Deciding not to look at his draft projections and instead focusing on his game, he said for him it was all about the next step in life.
"Once I got on track to graduate it was one of those decisions that’s going to weigh on you," Coates said. "I love Auburn to death. It did so much for me. It built me into an Auburn man. I came here to become an Auburn man. It just changed my whole life and I’m so blessed to be in this situation. It’s just a chance you can take."
This season Coates fought through injuries, but still managed to catch 30 passes for 717 yards and four touchdowns. That included monster games of four catches for 144 yards and a touchdown against LSU and five catches for 206 yards and a pair touchdowns.
As a sophomore in 2013 Coates had a breakout season for Auburn on the way to the BCS title game. Finishing third in the country by averaging 21.5 yards per catch, Coates grabbed 42 passes for 902 yards seven scores while starting 12 games for the Tigers.
A player that has seen his stock take off in the last two seasons with the Tigers, Coates said he’s ready to see how he stacks up against the best of the best in the game of football in the NFL. Malzahn said all the scouts need to do is “watch the tape” to see what Coates brings to the table.
“I’m very proud of Sammie,” Malzahn said. “It just seems like yesterday that a real quiet, skinny kid from Leroy, Ala. was up in our office. I think he was either a two-star or three-star, and after a camp we offered him. I’m real proud to sit up here with guy like Sammie and to watch him grow.
“He’s represented Auburn football in a great way,” he added. “He’s represented us off the field in a great way. He’s got a bright future. I’m real proud of him. He’s got his degree and that was very important to Sammie. We’re very excited for him and his future. We’ve got him for one more game. I know he’s going to be ready to play and go out with a bang.”