War Eagle Extra

Auburn players relish chance to impress Bill Belichick at pro day

AUBURN, Ala. — Every team in the NFL — 32 strong — had representatives at Auburn's Pro Day. But only one head coach was in attendance Tuesday.And it was none other than the most successful (and controversial) coach of his generation: Bill Belichick. Yes, the hooded one himself, who has led New England to four Super Bowl championships (and two other appearances in the title game) since taking over as coach in 2000, made the trip to the Plains to take in the pro day festivities in-person.

Though he wasn't wearing his traditional cut-off hooded sweatshirt — going with a baby blue button-down and blue jeans instead — it was no surprise Belichick avoided any type of anonymity.

"I turned around and (saw) the Super Bowl champ back there and I was like, ‘Whoa, he's in Auburn,'" receiver Sammie Coates said. " ... But that was good to have him out here to watch us perform and I was very excited to see him back there."

New England's coach seemed to take special interest in Coates' drills, even stopping to offer the wideout words of encouragement on one occasion.

"He just told me, ‘Good job,’ and that’s all I needed," Coates said. "I didn't need much more than that. He just told me to keep working and good job."

While Coates could hardly contain his excitement — joking that he thought about going up to the coach and asking if he could "borrow" a Super Bowl ring — about Belichick's arrival, Gabe Wright was a bit more subdued. The defensive lineman had already met with Belichick during the NFL combine last month, so he admitted the "awe factor" that came with meeting one of the most recognizable coaches in sports had already worn off.

Wright felt the pressure to perform in another area, however; he and fellow defensive linemen Angelo Blackson went through positional drills, which were run by Belichick himself.

"It felt like his work," Wright said, "was harder than the pro day work."

Given the attention Belichick paid to Coates, the Alabama native was asked for his thoughts on the Patriots.

Getting picked by New England — and, in turn, earning an opportunity to play for Belichick — would be a dream come true for Coates.

"It would be a privilege," Coates said. " ... He’s one of the top head coaches of all time. The cold weather, I could get used to."