Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates announced Monday that he is going to bypass his senior season and turn pro.
Coates has great speed and is an elite athlete, but he remains raw as a receiver and needs to hone his craft. But there is no doubt he has a big upside. He graduated from Auburn on Saturday and has been invited to the Senior Bowl. He told reporters at a news conference that he would not be leaving if he had not graduated.
"He's got a bright future. I'm real proud of him," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said at the news conference, according to AL.com. "He's got his degree and that was very important for Sammie."
Coates (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) missed one game this season with a leg injury and has just 30 receptions, for 717 yards (23.98 yards per catch) and four TDs, heading into the Outback Bowl against Wisconsin. He had a huge game in a loss to Alabama, with five catches for 206 yards and two TDs.
All his TDs came in three games -- and those were, by far, his best games of the season. In addition to his performance against Alabama, he had four receptions for 144 yards and a TD in a win over LSU and five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Mississippi. Remove those three contests, though, and he didn't have a game this season with more than 64 receiving yards.
As a sophomore in 2013, he had seven TD receptions, and they averaged 54.1 yards per pop.
Coates -- who has been asked to do a lot of blocking in Auburn's version of the spread -- has been clocked in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash and has a vertical jump that has been measured at a staggering 44 inches. He will test extremely well in pre-draft workouts and might be overvalued a bit because of his high-level athleticism. But he is far from polished.
Fellow junior wide receiver D'haquille Williams also is a candidate to turn pro; he is in his first season at Auburn after transferring in from junior college.