Late in the second quarter, Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Stacy Coley recognized the opening in the coverage.
“I just saw the safety come down and I knew I had the slant route,” Coley said postgame. “I just had to get behind the safety, and when I caught it I just ran for green grass.”
The junior picked up a 67-yard touchdown reception without being touched; although Coley ran into the end zone with ease, his road to an electrifying junior season has been anything but smooth.
Coming out of Northeast high school, Coley was ranked number 47 in the ESPN 300, and was one of the top recruits in Miami’s class.
From the start of his freshman season, the receiver proved that he belonged.
Coley finished his freshman year with nearly 600 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns, all while being hailed as the heir to Allen Hurn’s throne as the ‘Canes number one wide receiver.
Instead of ascending to national prominence; however, Coley disappointed during his second season.
The sophomore went from second on the team in receiving yards to seventh, and had 407 less receiving yards than 2013.
“Stacy reminds me of myself, being so highly touted out of high school and having so (many) expectations.” Wide Receivers coach Kevin Beard said in an interview last spring. “I think it was a lot of pressure on him. He came in and had a lot of success and then the pressure built up.”
Combine the pressure from the fan base with constant injuries, and a different Stacy Coley hit the field. He was more hesitant on his routes, and went from creating obstacles for opposing teams to becoming an obstacle of success for his own team.
Coley contributed to his team’s 6-7 2014 finish, and made it a personal mission to never let himself fall from grace again.
“My sophomore year will never ever exist in my football days again.” Coley said in an interview with 247 sports.com last year.
Coley went straight to business on a relentless mission to turn his play around. And by the start of the 2015, he looked like a different player.
In the last two games alone, the Junior has surpassed his 2014 receiving yards output, and is becoming a top target for quarterback Brad Kaaya.
More importantly for Miami; however, Coley has begun to demonstrate a strong work ethic on and off the field with the goal of reaching his full potential.
“He’s preparing, he’s watching film, he’s taking care of his body.” Interim Head Coach Larry Scott said after Miami’s win against Virginia. “He’s doing all the little things right on and off the field, and allowing his talent and preparation to come together simultaneously.”
Next week Miami has a tough matchup against North Carolina, and Coley will have to step up. The Tar Heels’ secondary is led by sophomore MJ Stewart, who was recently reinstated after being charged for misdemeanor battery. While Stewart may not be covering Coley for much of the game, North Carolina’s secondary should present issues.
The only question is, will Stacy Coley fall under the pressure like his sophomore season, or will he show the consistency he has been working for all year?
Game Prediction: Miami gets locked in a grudge match with the Tar Heels. One week removed from a 66 point performance, North Carolina will not slow down. 5th year senior Marquise Williams has success on the Hurricanes’ defense and engages Miami in a shoot out. Brad Kaaya and Miami go touchdown for touchdown with the Tar Heels, and in the the tightest game of the season Miami keeps their coastal hopes alive.
Final Score: Miami 37 North Carolina 34