Depth Chart: Auburn Receivers


Jan 2, 2014; Irvine, CA, USA; Auburn Tigers wide receivers Ricardo Louis (5) , Melvin Ray (82) , Sammie Coates (18) and Tony Stevens (8) during practice for the BCS National Championship against the Florida State Seminoles at UC Irvine. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn receivers were one of the roster’s biggest question marks entering Gus Malzahn’s first season as the Tigers’ head coach. Entering 2013, tight end CJ Uzomah was the team’s leading returner with 136 receiving yards. Quan Bray had 14 catches, tops among those back on the roster, and a little-used sophomore named Sammie Coates was the unit’s returning leader with two touchdown receptions.

It took time as the receiving corps had to endure some of the growing pains that come with a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, and new quarterback, but by the end of the season, the unit was solid.

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Coates emerged as one of college football’s best playmakers, and he led the country in yards per catch after averaging an astounding 21.5 yards per reception. He also led Auburn receivers with 42 catches, 902 yards and seven touchdowns. Recently, ranked Coates 66th on their national Top 100 List, #CFBRank.

Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers wide receiver Sammie Coates (18) celebrates his 38 yard touchdown catch with Quan Bray (4) against the Missouri Tigers in the first quarter during the 2013 SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome.. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Gus Malzahn’s offensive system offers a unique situation for wide receivers like Coates. Because of the power running game, Coates and his fellow Auburn receivers spend a lot of time blocking. However, it is also that power running game that creates huge opportunities for big plays. The play-action passing attack is a major weapon for the Tigers, and it was a big part of Coates’ production in 2013.

Coates, now a junior, already ranks in the top 25 on the school’s all-time receiving yards list and is only the 25th player in Auburn history to record more than 1,000 receiving yards in his career. Only Alexander Wright currently has a better career average in yards per catch, and because Coates has outstanding speed and decent size, a jump to the NFL could be coming following the season.

But for now, Coates will lead the Auburn receivers corps. Expect to see the Leroy, Alabama native more involved in the Tiger’s intermediate passing game. Therefore, he may not put up huge yards per catch numbers again this season, but his receptions are likely to increase. Also, with the team expected to throw the ball more in 2014, he could improve on his numbers from last season across the board.

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Joining Coates this season will be D’haquille Williams – widely regarded as the nation’s top junior college recruit in the 2014 class. In 2013, Williams had 733 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on 51 receptions at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College after catching 67 passes for 1,295 yards and 17 scores as a freshman there. With Williams on the field, teams will be less likely to double-team Coates.

Williams joins a group of returning receivers that gained valuable experience in 2013. Ricardo Louis caught 28 passes for 325 yards and two scores, including the unbelievable answered prayer that proved to be the game winner against Georgia. Louis also factors into the running game from the slot and therefore provides Malzahn with position flexibility that gives defensive coordinators fits.

Bray, a senior and returning starter, will also be a factor. Bray had 23 catches for 195 yards last season, and scored three times. Smaller than the 6-foot-2 trio of Coates, Williams and Louis, Bray is a shifty slot receiver at 5-foot-10. Similarly built, Marcus Davis also caught 23 passes last season as a freshman.

Tony Stevens, Melvin Ray, Dominic Walker and true freshman Stanton Truitt will also have an opportunity to contribute.

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At tight end, Uzomah returns for his senior season. Uzomah had 11 receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns in 2013, including the game winner against Mississippi State and a big third quarter score against Alabama.

Brandon Fulse will also see time at tight end, and he and Uzomah are both likely to play the fullback/H-back position Jay Prosch manned last season. Both are 6-foot-4, giving the Tigers options in the red zone. Chris Laye and Gage Batten will provide depth.

Like the roster as a whole, there is a much more positive feeling surrounding the Auburn receivers heading into 2014. The unit is now experienced and tested – but best of all, they are talented and ready to produce.