The 6-2, 203-pounder from Leroy High School is one of the players on offense who had a big play in Auburn's first scrimmage of spring training as he made a long gainer on a pass from Kiehl Frazier.
"I was really excited to be out there," he said. "It feels good to be back out there and just fight for what I want to do. It feels good to be part of the team again."
One of the faster players on the team, he has been able to keep his excellent speed after bouncing back from an ankle injury he suffered in August. He hopes that along with his ability to catch a football will allow him to earn a starting job this fall.
Self-evaluating his scrimmage performance, Coates said that he made some good plays and blocked well, but needs to do a better job of catching the ball in traffic. Overall, he noted that he was pleased.
"It felt like I am football player now that I am back out there playing instead of on the sideline watching," he said. "It felt good to be able to get out there and be a part of it and get a lot of reps. I feel good about where I am at and how I am doing."
Coates and the Tigers will return to the field on Monday for their seventh of 15 spring practice dates.
Coates is shown at a spring practice.
Who will be the starting quarterback throwing the passes to the receivers is a still to be determined question. The Tigers have only three scholarship QBs on the roster for spring drills and a fourth, Jonathan Wallace, will join the team this summer after he graduates high school.
The returning starter is a player Coates knows well, his high school teammate, Clint Moseley. However, the redshirt junior quarterback has been limited the past week as he recovers from a sore shoulder.
"The other day at practice he was looking good, but he had to get out early because his shoulder was hurting," Coates said.
With Moseley limited that has opened the door for more reps for sophomore Kiehl Frazier and early high school graduate Zeke Pike.
Coates said that he is seeing improvement from Frazier, whose role last season was mainly to run or handoff the football after coming in off the bench. "He is getting that quarterback momentum out there," Coates said. "He is being a real good leader out there. It is getting really good with his footwork and he is stepping up and being a leader like a quarterback is supposed to be."
Commenting on Pike, the receiver said, "He is catching on. He is getting his fundamentals down and trying to get his footwork right. He is looking pretty good and starting to look like a quarterback for an SEC school. If he keeps working hard I think he will do good."
Coates noted that the coaches are seeing progress from the offense as a whole. "They were talking to us about we are doing good and we are getting better every day," the redshirt freshman said. "We just have to keep working and keep focusing, work hard and get the fundamentals down."