The University of Miami got uplifting news Sunday from a talented underclassman who was contemplating entering the 2016 NFL Draft.
Wide receiver Stacy Coley announced on Instagram that he is staying with the Hurricanes for his senior season. He joins redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad and junior cornerback Corn Elder as Miami players who announced they will remain at UM next season.
Only junior cornerback Artie Burns has announced his intention to enter the NFL Draft.
“It’s official,’’ Coley posted Sunday afternoon, one day after UM announced the hiring of new receivers coach Ron Dugans. “I decided to come back for my senior year at the University of Miami to further my education and as well as my football career.”
Many believed Coley was leaning toward leaving UM after the bowl game, and that UM’s firing of well-loved receivers coach Kevin Beard might affect his NFL draft decision. His choice to remain a Hurricane should substantially boost his draft status next year if he continues with his accelerated on-field growth.
Coley, 6-1 and 187 pounds, is from Pompano Beach and graduated from Northeast High School. He finished the 2015 season with 689 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 47 catches – six yards and one touchdown behind Miami senior receiver Rashawn Scott.
Coley had hamstring issues during the summer and early fall and played in 11 games, compared to 13 for Scott. His 62.6 receiving yards a game ranks 81st nationally and sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
For his UM career, Coley has started 21 of his 36 games and has caught 103 passes for 1,464 yards, an average of 14.2 yards a catch. He has scored 11 touchdowns.
Coley had a strong freshman season, slumped as a sophomore, rebounded in 2015 and was projected to be a third-day draft pick (rounds four through seven) at best.
Behind Coley, tight end David Njoku is the Hurricane who will return next season with the most receiving yards – 362 and one touchdown in 2015. After that, tailback Mark Walton has 293 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Wide receivers Scott and Herb Waters (624 yards) both exhausted their eligibility, and sophomore Tyre Brady is transferring.
After the Sun Bowl, in which Coley had three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown, he said he planned to talk to his mother and ask her where she stood on his leaving early.
He said his family is “big on education. My mom always preaches to us, ‘Education first. Without education, you’re nobody.’’’
He said if he were to return he would work on getting “bigger and stronger’’ and “leading my team in the right direction and going for the [Biletnikoff] Award,’’ which goes to the top receiver in college.
As a return specialist, Coley returned only one kickoff this season for 31 yards.
He returned 47 career kickoffs for 1,142 yards (24.3-yard average) and a touchdown; and 25 punts for 325 yards (13-yard average) and a touchdown.
The deadline for underclassmen to apply for early draft eligibility is Jan. 18.
The NFL Scouting Combine is Feb. 23-29 in Indianapolis.
The NFL Draft is April 28-30.