Stacy Coley, considered by many to be the top senior wide receiver in the state, always has been confident about his skills. But it wasnt until he came to a certain realization that his budding career really took off.
He was very cocky as a freshman, said Northeast coach Donnell Bennett, a former University of Miami running back. You could see flashes of his talent, but he learned real fast that he wasnt as good as he thought.
A 6-1, 175-pounder with 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash, Coley is coming off a season in which he caught 50 passes for 750 yards. He has more than 20 college scholarship offers from schools such as Notre Dame, Miami, Oregon, Florida State and Florida.
He is the sixth-best receiver prospect in the nation, according to Rivals.com. The next best player in that category is University Schools Jordan Cunningham, who is slotted at No. 21 by Rivals. ESPN ranks Coley No. 3 in the nation and Cunningham sixth.
Bennett said that once Coley learned the details of playing receiver, he no longer needed to brag about his game.
I told him that what he does on the field speaks so loudly that you dont have to say a word, Bennett said.
If a recent conversation with Coley is any indication, the cocky attitude of his freshman year is gone. He still has the swagger that Bennett said reminds him of former Miami Hurricanes receivers such as Lamar Thomas. But Coley mostly projects a quiet confidence now.
Ever since my freshman year, Coach Bennett has told me to work hard and stay focused, said Coley, a third-year starter. I think Ive achieved a lot. Ive become humble.
Coley, who wants to study business in college, is most dangerous on fly patterns. But he said he is willing to run crossing patterns, intermediate routes and any other play that is called.
He takes Sundays off to relax and rest his body, using the time to play video games with friends. But other than that, you can often find him on the field working on his game.
My hands are really good, Coley said when asked to assess his technique. Ive been working to make sure Im consistent. I try to stay away from one-handed catches, but if I needed to do it, I could.
Coley has become so selfless that one of his biggest goals this year is to make sure that his senior teammates all get football scholarships.
He knows his status as an elite receiver will bring recruits to Northeast games, and he hopes his teammates can shine on his shared spotlight.
It is sentiments such as those that have prompted Bennett to say that Coleys personality is his biggest gift.
Dont get me wrong he is head and shoulders above other guys athletically, Bennett said. But what makes him special is how much he loves the game and how hard he works.
Guys with tremendous talent have a tendency not to work as hard as other kids because they dont have to do that to succeed. But Stacy wants to work.