OAKLAND PARK, Fla. -- It's been over 11 months since ESPN 150 wide receiver Stacy Coley (Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast) electrified observers at the Under Armour National Combine and earned an invitation to the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
At the time of his invite, Northeast head coach Donnell Bennett hoped that Coley would take the responsibility of being an All-American to heart and become a leader in his senior year.
As Northeast heads to the state playoffs as district champions, Bennett said at the 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior's Under Armour Game jersey presentation as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour that he has been a huge part of the program's success this year.
"Stacy has done a tremendous job of getting himself ready and prepared for the challenges that lie ahead," Bennett said. "He's been doing the things on and off the field that we've asked him to do. He continues to evolve and mature as a person and it's great to see."
Coley said that the label of All-American has changed the way he works and changed the way people view him.
"Being an Under Armour All-American has helped me make a lot of positive changes because my teammates, my coaches, my teachers all see me in a different light," Coley said. "It's a tremendous honor. It's the best of the best and I'm looking forward to being part of it."
Coley, who is ranked No. 30 overall in the ESPN 150, admitted he's a regular target for opposing defenses. But living in ultra-competitive Broward County, the receiver wouldn't expect anything less.
"I've been on both sides of the fence really," Coley said. "When I was younger, I went out and challenged guys like Tracy Howard and Deon Bush. Now I'm a target for the young defensive backs and the guys that want to prove they are better than their ranking."
To deal with such challenges on a weekly basis, Coley has had to continually step up his work ethic. Already known as a tireless worker, Bennett said Coley has taken it to another level this season.
"He demonstrates his work ethic to me on a daily basis," Bennett said. "He continues to get better and I've seen guys work at that level when I was playing at Miami and playing in the NFL.
"Stacy has that combination of ball skills and speed and his work ethic is what separates him from the next guy. Some guys have one or the other or two out of three, but Stacy will push himself to the limit and do what it takes to get better."
"In the past it might have been frustrating to not get the ball as much as I like, but now it's about making the most of the opportunities I get," Coley said. "We have a lot of young guys on the team and it's all about winning as a team and now we're in the playoffs."
Bennett said he expects Coley's game to rise to greater heights in the postseason.
"We've talked about rising to the occasion often," Bennett added. "I believe he's ready to take on anything that comes his way."