As with the Will Muschamp news, AuburnUndercover - the Auburn 247Sports site - is the first to report that Sammie Coates is expected to declare for the NFL draft and will play his final game as an Auburn Tiger in the Outback Bowl.
Coates' 2014 numbers were not quite as stellar as 2013, but that is due in large part to missing a fair bit of playing time early in the season and the addition of Duke Williams to the Auburn receiving corps. Coates had 30 receptions for 717 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2014. His biggest performance of the year was in the Tigers' last regular season game against Alabama, where he had 5 catches for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns.
This really is the smart move for Sammie to make if we're honest. For a wide receiver with his measurables (he was named Bruce Feldman's #1 Freak Athlete in college football earlier this season) and after a high profile performance like the Iron Bowl, he should strike while the iron's hot (no pun intended). He is rated by Mel Kiper, Jr as likely a 2nd round draft pick.
Sure, he could do with a little help catching the ball consistently, but that can be worked on. With the knee issue he had earlier in the season, there's no point in risking a bigger injury next season.
As for who will take his place, that remains to be seen. We'll have a feature coming up in the next few days on likely departures and their replacements. One person who could step in immediately is 5* WR Christian Kirk, from Arizona. He will be an early enrollee and will announce his college decision on Wednesday at 12:45pm CDT.
Other players who could be considering leaving early are WR D'haquille Williams, OL Avery Young, and LBs Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost. Yes, those two. They'll have a whole new defensive system to learn before next season, and who knows how they will perform in it and whether or not their possible draft stock will rise or fall. I think they can be outstanding in Will Muschamp's defense, but who knows.