D-end Colby Wooden commits to Auburn – 247Sports


247Sports

D-end Colby Wooden commits to Auburn
247Sports
This could be a big week for Auburn football recruiting. Two major targets — defensive end Colby Wooden of Lawrenceville (Ga.) Archer and cornerback Zion Puckett of Griffin (Ga.) Spalding — are set to announce their college commitments and the

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3-star defensive end Colby Wooden commits to Auburn

Auburn landed a 14th commitment to its 2019 recruiting class

3-star defensive end Colby Wooden commits to Auburn

Auburn landed a 14th commitment to its 2019 recruiting class

Auburn has another edge rusher in its 2019 recruiting class.

Three-star defensive end Colby Wooden committed to Auburn over Clemson this afternoon, giving the Tigers a 14th member of their 2019 class, including their third defensive end.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Wooden joins Auburn’s two other defensive line commitments, three-star defensive end Jamond Gordon and four-star defensive end Jaren Handy.

The Lawrenceville, Ga. native is the No. 31 strong-side defensive end in the nation and the No. 52 player in Georgia, according to the 247Sporst Composite. He has a mix of both power and speed, which is why Auburn recruited the Archer High School product as a Buck.

Wooden visited Auburn for A-Day, Big Cat Weekend and in late June.

His commitment moved Auburn’s 2019 class up one spot to No. 15 in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Auburn’s J.B. Grimes has ‘group of 5’ offensive linemen he would start right now

Auburn hasn’t officially named a starting five on the offensive line, but position coach J.B. Grimes knows who would get the nod if the Tigers played today.

Auburn’s J.B. Grimes has ‘group of 5’ offensive linemen he would start right now

Auburn hasn't officially named a starting five on the offensive line, but position coach J.B. Grimes knows who would get the nod if the Tigers played today.

Auburn’s season opener is still two-plus weeks away, but if the Tigers were to take the field today, J.B. Grimes knows who he would trot out as the starting five along the offensive line.

As Auburn heads into the final two practices of fall camp, Grimes said his starting offensive line right now would consist of Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. at left tackle, Marquel Harrell at left guard, Kaleb Kim at center, Mike Horton at right guard and Jack Driscoll at right tackle. This comes a day after coach Gus Malzahn said the team was “a little closer” to determining a group of starters.

“I’ve got a group of five that, if we had to play today — that’s the best way I would describe it: I think if we had to play today, I know who I would want to jog out there for that first play,” Grimes said Thursday during Auburn’s media day for assistant coaches. “… But quite honestly, we’re still a work in progress.”

The left side of the line has been settled since the spring, where Wanogho and Harrell are entrenched as starters, and where Grimes believes Wanogho can be an All-SEC caliber left tackle. Horton has repped at center and right guard this fall, often alternating practices between the two positions, but appears to be settling in to the guard slot on the right side of the line.

At right tackle Driscoll, a UMass grad transfer, has taken charge of the competition against redshirt freshman Austin Troxell, who Grimes said still needs to get physically stronger after coming off consecutive ACL injuries dating back to high school, but remains in the mix for the job.

While Troxell has shown he belongs in the conversation for the job, Grimes has been thoroughly impressed with 6-foot-5, 300-pound Driscoll, who started 20 games the last two seasons at UMass, including five against SEC teams.

“My daddy said a long time ago, he said, ‘A blind hog will find an acorn every once in a while,'” Grimes said. “OK, well, I think we found us an acorn in that one in getting a grad transfer from UMass who probably had no stars coming out of high school. He was a 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end that now, in my opinion, watching him on tape, is an SEC football player.

“He belongs here, and for us to be able to get that kid with the kind of work ethic that he has, the kind of professional attitude he has, the kind of intelligence that he has — on top of an excellent football IQ — is amazing. We’re really, in my opinion, fortunate to have that young man on our football team right now.”

The biggest question remains at center, where Kim leads but a battle for the starting job will continue over the coming weeks.

“Right now, the job is still daily,” Grimes said. “If we had to play today, which we don’t — we’re 16 days away — but if we had to play today, Kaleb Kim would jog out there. Obviously, I’m not trying to avoid the question; I’m being very transparent here. It is what it is.”

While Kim is currently the favorite at center, Grimes isn’t counting out redshirt freshman Nick Brahms, who is still working his way back from a broken leg he sustained at the end of March during spring practices. Brahms took an encouraging step forward in his recovery process this week, according to head coach Gus Malzahn, who said Wednesday that the 6-foot-4, 304-pounder began doing individual work and one-on-one drills in practice.

Grimes said Thursday that the team and training staff planned to “really progress” Brahms on Friday when the Tigers return to the practice field, with hopes that he will continue to inch closer to a full return before the season opens on Sept. 1 against Washington.

“He’s got a chance to join the competition,” Grimes said. “… Again, it’s a battle. We’re hoping to get — somebody’s got to step up.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Jonathan Jones ready to play again for New England Patriots

When Jonathan Jones made his debut in 11-on-11 drills in New England’s preseason practices on Sunday, the former Auburn standout stepped in as the slot cornerback with the first-team defense.

Jonathan Jones ready to play again for New England Patriots

When Jonathan Jones made his debut in 11-on-11 drills in New England's preseason practices on Sunday, the former Auburn standout stepped in as the slot cornerback with the first-team defense.

When Jonathan Jones made his debut in 11-on-11 drills in New England’s preseason practices on Sunday, the former Auburn standout stepped in as the slot cornerback with the first-team defense.

Maybe it was an indication of Jones’ status, or maybe it was the Patriots’ coaches trying to get an assessment against NFL starters of where the former Auburn standout stood in his return from an ankle injury.

“It’s just like thrown back into the fire,” Jones said. “When you get back out there, you’ve got to be ready to go and compete with the guys out there with you. They’re depending on you. It felt good to be back out there. Hopefully will be able to keep building on it.”

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New England has a hole to fill in its secondary. Former West Alabama standout Malcolm Butler hardly came off the field for the Patriots in the previous three seasons — until the cornerback’s mysterious absence from Super Bowl LII in February. The next month, Butler signed a five-year, $61.25 million contract with the Tennessee Titans as a free agent.

Stephen Gilmore is acknowledged as New England’s top cornerback. Eric Rowe has started 10 games — and missed 15 — in the past two seasons for the Patriots. New England has nine other cornerbacks on its preseason roster, including 2018 second-round draft choice Duke Dawson from Florida and two players who didn’t get off the physically-unable-to-perform list until last week — Jones and former Alabama standout Cyrus Jones, who missed the 2017 season because of a knee injury in the Patriots’ final preseason game last year.

Jonathan Jones suffered his ankle injury in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 35-14 playoff victory over the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 13. The injury caused Jones to miss New England’s 24-20 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game and 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

In his two seasons in the NFL since earning a spot on the Patriots as an undrafted rookie, Jones hadn’t missed a game before the injury, playing in 32 regular-season and four postseason contests.

“That’s part of the game. Injuries are part of the game,” Jones said. “I think for this year, just to build on it and come out and try to contribute more and more to the team.”

Jones might get his chance to play against the Eagles on Thursday. Philadelphia will visit the Patriots at 6:30 p.m. CDT to open the second full week of the NFL’s preseason schedule.

“Feels good to be back working with the guys,” Jones said. “Just trying to catch up. They’ve been working, putting in hard work, and I’m just trying to catch up and get back on their level.”

If Jones isn’t already on the safe list when it comes to making the regular-season roster, his ability on special teams should add an extra plus on his side.

Jones established himself as a core special-teamer from the start. While he played only 64 defensive snaps with the New England defense as a rookie, he was on the field for 307 special-teams plays.

Last season, Jones had 289 special-teams plays, the second-most on the Patriots, while his defensive snaps soared to 439 with Gilmore and Rowe missing time with injuries.

Jones turned in two particularly dramatic plays for the Patriots’ defense in 2017. In New England’s 19-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 5, Jones knocked down a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game. In the Patriots’ 21-13 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 29, Jones intercepted a pass at the New England 1-yard line on the Chargers’ final snap of the game.

New England Patriots vs New Orleans SaintsNew England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn during an NFL game on Sept. 17, 2017, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. 

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Auburn Football: Can Tigers overcome treacherous schedule? – Saturday Blitz


Saturday Blitz

Auburn Football: Can Tigers overcome treacherous schedule?
Saturday Blitz
Auburn football has one of the country's most difficult schedules in 2018. Can the Tigers overcome it to get into the College Football Playoff? The 1950 Auburn Tigers finished the season winless after an 0-10 season. By 1957, the Tigers were 10-0 and

AL.com All-Access: Which current SEC coaches will outlast Alabama’s Nick Saban?

Saban under contract through 2025 season

This is a topic that sprung to mind after it was announced Wednesday that LSU and Clemson agreed to a home-and-home football series in 2025 and 2026.

Will Ed Orgeron still be LSU’s coach then? Will Dabo Swinney still be at Clemson?

I’d say there’s no better than a 20 percent chance (and that’s just a figure I pulled out of the air) both are still at their current schools in seven years’ time.

But what about Alabama?

Nick Saban is under contract with the Crimson Tide through the 2025 season. He’s also about to turn 67 years old.

Those two factors must be considered together. It’s easy to assume that Saban, given his current level of success and vitality, will still be coaching at age 74.

But it’s also possible he steps down before then (he’s got a pretty hefty completion bonus coming at the end of 2021, when he’ll be 70). And when he does leave Tuscaloosa, I’m confident in saying he’s going to hang it up for good and not go to another school or to the NFL.

It’s a credit to Saban’s staying power that we even feel the need to ask this question, but how many other SEC head coaches do you think will still be at their current schools by 2026?

Let’s eliminate the easy ones first:

Orgeron won’t last much longer at LSU.

Ditto Derek Mason at Vanderbilt.

I can’t see Missouri’s Barry Odom or Kentucky’s Mark Stoops having the level of success needed to stick around another seven years.

So that’s four.

I’m less sure about these: but Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead, South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, Arkansas’ Chad Morris and Ole Miss’ Matt Luke will either have moved on from their schools or their schools will have moved on from them by 2026.

So now we’re up to seven.

There are a few obvious ones in the other direction as well:

Kirby Smart is going to be a Georgia lifer. There is literally no other job in America — not even Alabama — where he would have more internal and external resources to help him win national championships.

Dan Mullen is only 46 and will probably be at Florida at least another decade, assuming he has success (which he will).

Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M has a 10-year, $75-million contract that is virtually guaranteed. So I think those two are stuck with each other.

So that’s three SEC coaches that probably will outlast Saban.

That leaves us with two others we haven’t discussed: Tennessee’s Jeremy Pruitt and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn.

Pruitt is a total wild-card. We have no idea yet if he’ll be a successful head coach (though odds are in his favor, if for no other reason than his recruiting prowess) and we don’t know if a more intriguing job might open between now and 2026.

Such as Alabama.

I believe Alabama will go after Dabo Swinney when Saban retires, but Swinney will probably turn the job down to stay at Clemson. The Crimson Tide’s second choice — again, assuming he’s not a total disaster at Tennessee — might just be Jeremy Pruitt.

And then there’s Malzahn, who like Fisher at Texas A&M, has a pretty much guaranteed contract at Auburn. The only difference is Malzahn’s deal expires after the 2024 season.

Will he have enough success to get an extension? Will they simply add a year to the deal if Auburn has a big season in 2018?

Malzahn will be 59 by the end of the 2024 season. That’s young enough for him to get another contract extension onto the end of this one.

I’m going to say no on Pruitt and yes on Malzahn still being at their current schools in 2026. The caveat is that I think Saban retires before 2024 and Pruitt gets the Alabama job.

So our final count is four SEC coaches who outlast Nick Saban at their current jobs (Smart, Mullen, Fisher and Malzahn).

What do you think? Am I right on here or way off base?

I’ll take your questions and comments on that or anything else on your mind beginning at 10 a.m.

AL.com All-Access: Which current SEC coaches will outlast Alabama’s Nick Saban?

Saban under contract through 2025 season

Decision Day for 3-star defensive end Colby Wooden, will it be Auburn or Clemson?

Three-star defensive end will decide between Auburn and Clemson this afternoon

Decision Day for 3-star defensive end Colby Wooden, will it be Auburn or Clemson?

Three-star defensive end will decide between Auburn and Clemson this afternoon

Auburn has a chance to add two commitments in as many days, starting this afternoon with three-star defensive end Colby Wooden.

The Lawrenceville, Ga. native is scheduled to make his commitment to either Auburn or Clemson at 1:30 p.m. CT at Archer High School.

The 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions unanimously expect the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Wooden to pick Auburn and become the 14th commit in its 2019 class.

Ranked as the No. 31 strong-side defensive end in the nation and the No. 52 player in Georgia, Wooden brings a mix of both speed and power off the edge. His highlights show a knack for stopping the run as well as shedding blocks to get to the passer, which is why Auburn recruited him as a Buck.

Wooden visited Auburn for A-Day, Big Cat Weekend and in late June. He could join Auburn’s two other defensive line commitments, three-star defensive end Jamond Gordon and four-star defensive end Jaren Handy.

Auburn is going to lose defensive tackles Dontavius Russell and Andrew Williams after this season and could see early departures from Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and possibly Nick Coe, which is why the Tigers are aiming for four or five defensive linemen in this year’s class.

Auburn expecting another big defensive line recruiting class in 2019

Should Wooden pick Auburn, which enters the day with the No. 16 class in the 247Sports Composite, it should move the Tigers’ next class up one spot in the rankings. Auburn is also in the mix for four-star wide receiver Zion Puckett, who will announce his commitment on Friday.

Clemson has 22 commits, including three defensive ends, in the No. 6 ranked class.

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Where’s Auburn RB Kam Pettway? Coaching at an Alabama HS

The early entrant to the NFL draft is now an assistant coach at Park Crossing High in Montgomery.

Former Auburn star Kam Pettway expected to spend every afternoon on the practice field, just in a far different place.

Pettway gave up his final year of eligibility at Auburn and entered the 2018 NFL Draft, but his NFL dream ended abruptly. No team selected Pettway, and he spent a short time with the Minnesota Vikings in May before being released.

RELATED: See complete coverage of Auburn football

Today, the 22-year-old is an assistant coach at Park Crossing High in Montgomery, coaching running backs for first-year coach Angelo Wheeler, one of Pettway’s former coaches.

“Things didn’t turn out like I thought it would,” Pettway said. “I couldn’t sit around and wait on another opportunity, so I started working on my (coaching) career. If an NFL opportunity comes about again, I’ll be ready for it. I’m still working out.

“When I’m coaching on the field, I still run through the drills when I show them an example. I’ll be ready if the opportunity presents itself again.”

Auburn commits get 5th star

Pettway ran for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns on 209 carries in 2016, leading the SEC by averaging 122.4 yards per game. He played just five games in 2017 after heel, ankle and shoulder-blade injuries hobbled him and he was also suspended for one game after failed drug test for marijuana.

The 6-foot, 235-pounder said he’s staying in shape in case an NFL team comes calling, but the 22-year-old added he’s concentrating on coaching instead of playing. He earned Auburn degree in interdisciplinary studies and said he’s teaching career prep and psychology classes at Park Crossing.

Pettway said he uses his story, from college star to out of the NFL at 22, as a teaching tool.

“I tell those guys … never give up on your dreams, because I’m still chasing mine as we speak,” he said, “but I try to harp on education, because if you don’t have an education, you’re not going to be too successful in life. Like me right now, if I didn’t have an education, I don’t know what I’d be doing at this moment.”

Rewinding Auburn’s latest scrimmage

Wheeler coached Pettway at Captial Heights Middle School before spending three seasons as the head coach at Sidney Lanier form 2010-12. Pettway played his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Poets before playing his final two seasons at nearby Prattville, where he ran for more than 1,400 yards as a senior.

Pettway said he began his coaching career last year at Auburn when running backs coach Tim Horton “made me his assistant coach” because “he knew my dream was to be a coach.”

Then, once it appeared NFL interest had evaporated and he played for the Columbus Lions arena league team in nearby Columbus, Georgia, Pettway turned to high school coaching. He said he hopes to “eventually” become a head coach and added Wheeler inspired him to pursue a coaching career.

“He’s always been a good coach, always pushed guys,” Pettway said of Wheeler. “He’d always try to keep guys out of trouble by keeping them playing sports, keeping them active, and I felt like he was a father figure to a lot of guys who didn’t have fathers. He was a good guy, and I want to help kids like he did.”

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Where’s Auburn RB Kam Pettway? Coaching at an Alabama HS

The early entrant to the NFL draft is now an assistant coach at Park Crossing High in Montgomery.

Gabe Wright lands on his feet after being released by Miami Dolphins

The Oakland Raiders were awarded defensive tackle Gabe Wright off the NFL’s waiver wire on Wednesday.

Gabe Wright lands on his feet after being released by Miami Dolphins

The Oakland Raiders were awarded defensive tackle Gabe Wright off the NFL's waiver wire on Wednesday.

The Oakland Raiders were awarded defensive tackle Gabe Wright off the NFL’s waiver wire on Wednesday.

The Miami Dolphins had waived the former Auburn standout on Tuesday after he was involved in one of the four altercations at the team’s practice on Monday. Reports indicated Wright struck Kenyan Drakewith an elbow or fist” while the helmetless running back’s back was turned during a dustup between offensive and defensive players.

A former Alabama standout, Drake is projected to be the Dolphins’ first-team running back this season. Wright was not considered a starting prospect.

The Raiders are 10th in the waiver-wire priority this offseason. Landing with Oakland indicates the first nine teams in the waiver-wire order didn’t put in a claim for Wright, although teams behind the Raiders might have.

Oakland had a spot on its roster for Wright after putting defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin on waivers. Rubin was listed with the third-team defense on the Raiders’ most recent depth chart.

A starter on Auburn’s 2013 SEC championship team and BCS national-championship runner-up, Wright entered the NFL as a fourth-round choice of the Detroit Lions in the 2015 draft.

Wright played seven games for the Lions as a rookie.

Wright played five games in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns, who signed Wright for their practice squad after he’d been let go at the end of the preseason.

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Wright spent training camp with the Eagles last year and had four tackles and 1.5 sacks in Philadelphia’s preseason finale, but still was released when the team reduced its 90-player preseason roster to the regular-season limit of 53.

The Dolphins signed Wright for their practice squad two days later when he cleared waivers. He spent the 2017 season on the Dolphins’ practice squad except for the final week of the regular season, when he joined the active roster and played in the final game.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Auburn ‘a little closer’ to determining offensive line

Gus Malzahn said the Tigers aren’t prepared to make a call just yet immediately following their second scrimmage of fall camp

Auburn ‘a little closer’ to determining offensive line

Gus Malzahn said the Tigers aren't prepared to make a call just yet immediately following their second scrimmage of fall camp

Auburn is “a little closer” to deciding its starting offensive line.

Gus Malzahn said the Tigers aren’t prepared to make a call just yet immediately following their second scrimmage of fall camp, but Kaleb Kim was at center with Mike Horton at right guard and Jack Driscoll and Austin Troxell split time at right tackle on Wednesday.

“It’s more one of those things where you say, ‘How many guys do you have that can help this first game?'” Malzahn said. “Depth wise, you’ve got to start with that. I think we’re getting real close to saying who can play the very first game.

“If this guy goes down, who’s the next guy? I think we’re close to that. As far as the starters, there’ll be some discussion. (Offensive coordinator) Chip (Lindsey)  and (offensive line coach) J.B. (Grimes) will communicate. This scrimmage was very important. I think it’ll give us some good information.”

Since the first scrimmage, Horton has been almost exclusively at guard and Kim has been at center.

“He’s getting a lot of reps to show what he can do,” Malzahn said of Kim. ‘You can tell he’s improved.”

Redshirt-freshman center Nick Brahms did not take part in Wednesday’s scrimmage, but Calvin Ashley did.

Though Driscoll, a grad transfer from UMass, had been working with the first-team offense earlier this week with Troxell behind him, Malzahn said the battle “kind of evened” out.

“Both of them have been with the (first-team) for multiple days and all that,” Malzahn said. “After this scrimmage we have more information, but right now they’ve both got equal opportunities to work with the ones.”

H-back Chandler Cox felt the offensive line did well in the first scrimmage and is confident about how the unit will do.

“They’re doing a very good job,” Cox said. ‘We had some film breakdown from the first scrimmage and the defense was twisting and stuff; our offense was picking it up. That early in fall camp for the O-line to do that, that was very good, very positive to see.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Auburn ‘a little closer’ to determining offensive line

Gus Malzahn said the Tigers aren't prepared to make a call just yet immediately following their second scrimmage of fall camp

Auburn is “a little closer” to deciding its starting offensive line.

Gus Malzahn said the Tigers aren’t prepared to make a call just yet immediately following their second scrimmage of fall camp, but Kaleb Kim was at center with Mike Horton at right guard and Jack Driscoll and Austin Troxell split time at right tackle on Wednesday.

“It’s more one of those things where you say, ‘How many guys do you have that can help this first game?'” Malzahn said. “Depth wise, you’ve got to start with that. I think we’re getting real close to saying who can play the very first game.

“If this guy goes down, who’s the next guy? I think we’re close to that. As far as the starters, there’ll be some discussion. (Offensive coordinator) Chip (Lindsey)  and (offensive line coach) J.B. (Grimes) will communicate. This scrimmage was very important. I think it’ll give us some good information.”

Since the first scrimmage, Horton has been almost exclusively at guard and Kim has been at center.

“He’s getting a lot of reps to show what he can do,” Malzahn said of Kim. ‘You can tell he’s improved.”

Redshirt-freshman center Nick Brahms did not take part in Wednesday’s scrimmage, but Calvin Ashley did.

Though Driscoll, a grad transfer from UMass, had been working with the first-team offense earlier this week with Troxell behind him, Malzahn said the battle “kind of evened” out.

“Both of them have been with the (first-team) for multiple days and all that,” Malzahn said. “After this scrimmage we have more information, but right now they’ve both got equal opportunities to work with the ones.”

H-back Chandler Cox felt the offensive line did well in the first scrimmage and is confident about how the unit will do.

“They’re doing a very good job,” Cox said. ‘We had some film breakdown from the first scrimmage and the defense was twisting and stuff; our offense was picking it up. That early in fall camp for the O-line to do that, that was very good, very positive to see.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Charles Barkley visits with Auburn football team – 247Sports


247Sports

Charles Barkley visits with Auburn football team
247Sports
AUBURN, Alabama — Charles Barkley yucked it up and shared a motivational message to the Auburn football team Tuesday night. The Auburn legend and NBA Hall of Famer was one of three speakers to speak to the Tigers so far during preseason camp, …

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Auburn’s Wildcat package could have familiar look, but with 1 major change

Auburn has worked some on installing its Wildcat package in fall camp, with Chandler Cox and JaTarvious Whitlow taking direct snaps.

Auburn’s Wildcat package could have familiar look, but with 1 major change

Auburn has worked some on installing its Wildcat package in fall camp, with Chandler Cox and JaTarvious Whitlow taking direct snaps.

Auburn’s Wildcat package this season could have both a new and a familiar look.

Running back JaTarvious Whitlow and H-back Chandler Cox have been taking direct snaps in practice when the Tigers began installation of the Wildcat this week while the team tries to find a new option following the early departure of Kerryon Johnson for the NFL.

“Chandler is an old guy that you know what you’re getting, has done it in games and then you have Whitlow, you’re trying to see him,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We’ll see.”

Malzahn said two other players have also received direct snaps in the package, though he declined to name them or even provide initials. When asked if anyone else was working in the Wildcat, Cox said he didn’t think anyone else got reps.

The two known choices in the package are interesting — for two very different reasons.

Cox saw time out of the Wildcat as a sophomore in 2016, and the results were not promising. Cox ran the ball four times for 9 total yards out of the formation that season, though his most memorable play — for better or for worse — came in the fourth quarter of that year’s Iron Bowl. Facing fourth-and-3 from Alabama’s 27-yard line, Cox took a snap, spun in the backfield and then rolled out to his left and threw an errant pass toward Johnson down the left sideline that was picked off by Shaun Dion Hamilton. Cox was also leveled by Reuben Foster on the play.

The following spring, Cox was asked if the “CoxCat” was a thing of the past, and he said it was “definitely a thing of the past,” though he acknowledged it would be “cool” to see it come back.

Auburn could turn to Chandler Cox at running back in ‘certain situations’ this season

The senior H-back has evidently gotten his wish, though there will certainly be one tweak to the package if Cox does take Wildcat snaps this fall.

“We’re not going to be doing any of that spinning stuff like we did two years back, stuff I did in high school,” Cox said Wednesday. “I’m kind of a guy, as you guys know, I’ll do anything. If they want me back there, if they want me at receiver, if they want me at H-back, I’ll do it. They wanted me to take some snaps and so I did. We’ll see where it goes. I’m not so sure what we’re going to do with it, but I’ll be ready just in case.”

Whitlow presents a more intriguing option for the Tigers in the gadget package that saw ample success with Johnson, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, last season. The 6-foot, 216-pound redshirt freshman, who is in the mix at running back and appears to be second in line behind junior Kam Martin, brings a different skillset to the Wildcat than Cox. Whitlow, like Cox, is a former high school quarterback, having passed for 2,292 yards and 29 touchdowns while rushing for another 2,147 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior at LaFayette in 2016.

Whitlow understands how to receive snaps and make reads in those situations, and he has also shown himself capable of being an explosive threat with his legs.

“He’s a very versatile player,” Cox said. “In high school he was a quarterback and a very good athlete. He just picks it up easily. He’s a smart player. Very physical. Knows what to do. He’s going to help us out.”

Malzahn, who tends to be guarded with his playbook and any insight into potential trick plays or gadgets, downplayed the Wildcat package on Wednesday.

“I don’t even know how much Chip is planning on using that package and all that,” Malzahn said. “We’ll see where that goes, but in the fall camp you’re just trying to install everything, and you just happened to be there that day we installed that (on Monday during the viewing window).”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Auburn’s Wildcat package could have familiar look, but with 1 major change

Auburn has worked some on installing its Wildcat package in fall camp, with Chandler Cox and JaTarvious Whitlow taking direct snaps.

Auburn’s Wildcat package this season could have both a new and a familiar look.

Running back JaTarvious Whitlow and H-back Chandler Cox have been taking direct snaps in practice when the Tigers began installation of the Wildcat this week while the team tries to find a new option following the early departure of Kerryon Johnson for the NFL.

“Chandler is an old guy that you know what you’re getting, has done it in games and then you have Whitlow, you’re trying to see him,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We’ll see.”

Malzahn said two other players have also received direct snaps in the package, though he declined to name them or even provide initials. When asked if anyone else was working in the Wildcat, Cox said he didn’t think anyone else got reps.

The two known choices in the package are interesting — for two very different reasons.

Cox saw time out of the Wildcat as a sophomore in 2016, and the results were not promising. Cox ran the ball four times for 9 total yards out of the formation that season, though his most memorable play — for better or for worse — came in the fourth quarter of that year’s Iron Bowl. Facing fourth-and-3 from Alabama’s 27-yard line, Cox took a snap, spun in the backfield and then rolled out to his left and threw an errant pass toward Johnson down the left sideline that was picked off by Shaun Dion Hamilton. Cox was also leveled by Reuben Foster on the play.

The following spring, Cox was asked if the “CoxCat” was a thing of the past, and he said it was “definitely a thing of the past,” though he acknowledged it would be “cool” to see it come back.

Auburn could turn to Chandler Cox at running back in ‘certain situations’ this season

The senior H-back has evidently gotten his wish, though there will certainly be one tweak to the package if Cox does take Wildcat snaps this fall.

“We’re not going to be doing any of that spinning stuff like we did two years back, stuff I did in high school,” Cox said Wednesday. “I’m kind of a guy, as you guys know, I’ll do anything. If they want me back there, if they want me at receiver, if they want me at H-back, I’ll do it. They wanted me to take some snaps and so I did. We’ll see where it goes. I’m not so sure what we’re going to do with it, but I’ll be ready just in case.”

Whitlow presents a more intriguing option for the Tigers in the gadget package that saw ample success with Johnson, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, last season. The 6-foot, 216-pound redshirt freshman, who is in the mix at running back and appears to be second in line behind junior Kam Martin, brings a different skillset to the Wildcat than Cox. Whitlow, like Cox, is a former high school quarterback, having passed for 2,292 yards and 29 touchdowns while rushing for another 2,147 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior at LaFayette in 2016.

Whitlow understands how to receive snaps and make reads in those situations, and he has also shown himself capable of being an explosive threat with his legs.

“He’s a very versatile player,” Cox said. “In high school he was a quarterback and a very good athlete. He just picks it up easily. He’s a smart player. Very physical. Knows what to do. He’s going to help us out.”

Malzahn, who tends to be guarded with his playbook and any insight into potential trick plays or gadgets, downplayed the Wildcat package on Wednesday.

“I don’t even know how much Chip is planning on using that package and all that,” Malzahn said. “We’ll see where that goes, but in the fall camp you’re just trying to install everything, and you just happened to be there that day we installed that (on Monday during the viewing window).”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Auburn’s run-oriented second fall scrimmage features 3 TDs, 2 fumbles

One fumble led to a scoop-and-score touchdown

Auburn’s second scrimmage of fall camp was run-oriented and featured two rushing touchdowns as well as a pair of fumbles, one of which led to a defensive score.

The Tigers ran over 100 plays in the heat Wednesday morning at Jordan-Hare Stadium, with the first and second-teams getting “close to 40 plays” each, according to Gus Malzahn, who estimated who it “75 or 80 percent” running plays.

“That was by design to see who could hold onto the football, to see who could tackle and get off blocks,” said Malzahn, who mentioned two fumbles by running backs. “… Anytime you put the ball on the ground, that’s the No. 1 thing. We’ve got some very talented young guys. The guys who can protect the football, as a coach, you have confidence putting them in early. If you can’t, you don’t. It’s real simple as far as that goes.”

One fumble led to a scoop-and-score touchdown by walk-on defensive back Sam Sherrod.

Wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers attributed the fumbles to players “being a little careless” and the defense didn’t want to take too much credit for its play on Wednesday.

“The scrimmage was OK, but I feel like we got to correct the little mistakes,” defensive back Javaris Davis said. “It’s not about what we did good; it’s about what we did bad. So we got to watch the film and just go from there.”

H-back Chandler Cox said true freshman Shaun Shivers and redshirt-freshman JaTarvious Whitlow scored the scrimmage’s two touchdowns.

“That was the emphasis today, just to run the ball downhill and be tough,” Cox said. “That’s what the coaches told us before practice was going to happen and that’s what we did. It was very physical, very good for our team. All of us needed it, and I think it was very productive.”

Malzahn said there “wasn’t any kind of order” for the running backs behind Kam Martin and that the younger backs all got approximately 10 carries.

The running game was an emphasis not on by design on Wednesday, but for the offense overall after the defense held the running backs in check during last week’s scrimmage and the depth chart remains undetermined.

“You’re just trying to give your guys a chance to show what they can do for your depth chart and all that, but then there’s times you’re trying to create an attitude, trying to create an identity,” Malzahn said. “That was part of Chip’s plan today too.”

Quarterbacks Joey Gatewood and Cord Sandberg were both live during the scrimmage, which also featured live field goals, punts and punt returns and two-minute situations and the competition at punter between Arryn Siposs and Aidan Marshall continues.

“Overall, I thought it was a good day,” Malzahn said, “great information that I think our coaches can gather for the season.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Auburn’s run-oriented second fall scrimmage features 3 TDs, 2 fumbles

One fumble led to a scoop-and-score touchdown

Auburn’s second scrimmage of fall camp was run-oriented and featured two rushing touchdowns as well as a pair of fumbles, one of which led to a defensive score.

The Tigers ran over 100 plays in the heat Wednesday morning at Jordan-Hare Stadium, with the first and second-teams getting “close to 40 plays” each, according to Gus Malzahn, who estimated who it “75 or 80 percent” running plays.

“That was by design to see who could hold onto the football, to see who could tackle and get off blocks,” said Malzahn, who mentioned two fumbles by running backs. “… Anytime you put the ball on the ground, that’s the No. 1 thing. We’ve got some very talented young guys. The guys who can protect the football, as a coach, you have confidence putting them in early. If you can’t, you don’t. It’s real simple as far as that goes.”

One fumble led to a scoop-and-score touchdown by walk-on defensive back Sam Sherrod.

Wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers attributed the fumbles to players “being a little careless” and the defense didn’t want to take too much credit for its play on Wednesday.

“The scrimmage was OK, but I feel like we got to correct the little mistakes,” defensive back Javaris Davis said. “It’s not about what we did good; it’s about what we did bad. So we got to watch the film and just go from there.”

H-back Chandler Cox said true freshman Shaun Shivers and redshirt-freshman JaTarvious Whitlow scored the scrimmage’s two touchdowns.

“That was the emphasis today, just to run the ball downhill and be tough,” Cox said. “That’s what the coaches told us before practice was going to happen and that’s what we did. It was very physical, very good for our team. All of us needed it, and I think it was very productive.”

Malzahn said there “wasn’t any kind of order” for the running backs behind Kam Martin and that the younger backs all got approximately 10 carries.

The running game was an emphasis not on by design on Wednesday, but for the offense overall after the defense held the running backs in check during last week’s scrimmage and the depth chart remains undetermined.

“You’re just trying to give your guys a chance to show what they can do for your depth chart and all that, but then there’s times you’re trying to create an attitude, trying to create an identity,” Malzahn said. “That was part of Chip’s plan today too.”

Quarterbacks Joey Gatewood and Cord Sandberg were both live during the scrimmage, which also featured live field goals, punts and punt returns and two-minute situations and the competition at punter between Arryn Siposs and Aidan Marshall continues.

“Overall, I thought it was a good day,” Malzahn said, “great information that I think our coaches can gather for the season.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Auburn’s run-oriented second fall scrimmage features 3 TDs, 2 fumbles

One fumble led to a scoop-and-score touchdown

Nick Brahms, Daquan Newkirk make encouraging progress in recovery from spring injuries

Daquan Newkirk and Nick Brahms both sustained significant injuries in the spring and are working to return to the field this fall.

Nick Brahms, Daquan Newkirk make encouraging progress in recovery from spring injuries

Daquan Newkirk and Nick Brahms both sustained significant injuries in the spring and are working to return to the field this fall.

Two injured Auburn players took notable steps forward in their recovery from spring injuries this week.

Defensive lineman Daquan Newkirk, who ruptured his Achilles tendon the day before spring practices began, and center Nick Brahms, who broke his leg in March, both began doing individual work and one-on-one drills this week, according to coach Gus Malzahn. The sixth-year Auburn coach said the two “looked pretty good” as they continue to work their way back onto the field.

Both Newkirk, a JUCO signee, and Brahms, a redshirt freshman, have been in orange non-contact jerseys since Auburn opened fall camp on Aug. 3. Neither player — along with injured linebacker Richard McBryde — participated in Wednesday’s scrimmage, which was the second of the preseason.

“We’ll see where they’re at the next day (after picture day on Thursday),” Malzahn said. “I know they’re getting checked out today. I was encouraged to see both those guys out there.”

As for receivers Will Hastings and Eli Stove, both of whom are coming off spring ACL tears, Malzahn said they continue to “look good” in individual drills but expects an updated timetable for their return in the near future.

Hastings caught 26 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns last season, while Stove finished with 29 receptions for 265 yards and added another 315 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. Both have been able to participate in a limited capacity since Day 1 of fall camp.

“I think it’s very promising,” Malzahn said, “the fact that they’re out there and be able to run routes and work with the quarterbacks.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Take 5 with Keith Niebuhr: Hump day intel – 247Sports


247Sports

Take 5 with Keith Niebuhr: Hump day intel
247Sports
AUBURN, Alabama — Former Aussie rules football player Arryn Siposs has a big leg and big expectations. The 25-year-old sophomore from Australia arrived stateside just a few weeks ago and he's already made a huge impression on Auburn's special …

Former Auburn, NFL DB Jerraud Powers to host Huntsville sport talk radio show

Decatur native retired from NFL after 2016 season

Former Auburn and NFL defensive back Jerraud Powers will co-host a morning sports talk radio show in Huntsville beginning Aug. 27, the station announced Wednesday.

Powers, 31, will co-host “Lockdown Coverage” from 6-10 a.m. weekdays on WUMP-AM 730/FM 103.9 alongside Huntsville radio veteran Arky Shea. The show takes over the same time slot previously filled by former Auburn center Cole Cubelic, who left for Birmingham’s WJOX-FM 94.5 earlier this year.

“I’m excited to be partnering with Arky Shea on the UMP,” Powers said. “I’ve always enjoyed sharing my opinions in every sport and now to get to do it professionally, I couldn’t be more excited.”

Powers, a Decatur native, started at cornerback at Auburn from 2006-08 and then with the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens from 2009-16. He announced his retirement from the NFL in April 2017.

Shea served for four years alongside Cubelic as co-host of “The Cube Show,” which won two statewide media awards for best morning show.

Former Auburn, NFL DB Jerraud Powers to host Huntsville sport talk radio show

Decatur native retired from NFL after 2016 season

What Gus Malzahn said about Auburn’s 2nd scrimmage of fall camp

Live updates from Gus Malzahn following Auburn's second scrimmage of fall camp on Wednesday morning.

Watch video

Auburn held its second scrimmage of fall camp Wednesday morning inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Coach Gus Malzahn is scheduled to meet with the media at approximately 11:30 to recap the scrimmage and discuss his team’s progress through nearly two weeks of practices, including a look at how the offensive line is taking shape, the team’s Wildcat options and the competition at running back.

AL.com will provide live updates throughout Malzahn’s press conference in the space below, so be sure to refresh the page for all the latest news and information.

GUS MALZAHN

— Team had 100-plus play scrimmage, with about 40 plays apiece for first- and second-teamers. It was a 75/25 run/pass split.

— Cord Sandberg and Joey Gatewood both went live.

— Younger running backs rotated behind Kam Martin. Was a good opportunity to get information on the running backs and help establish a pecking order, though there were a couple of fumbles.

— Calvin Ashley practiced.

— Jack Driscoll hasn’t solidified the starting job at right tackle yet, so competition is ongoing with him and Austin Troxell.

— Mike Horton continues to alternate between center and right guard.

— There was a scoop-and-score defensive touchdown on the third-team defense.

— Both punters went live and saw pressure, which was good. Good battle going on.

— Injury updates: Daquan Newkirk and Nick Brahms both got some individual work and one-on-one opportunities. Malzahn was “encouraged” to see those guys. No updated timetable for Will Hastings and Eli Stove.

— Possible to have situational punting? “I think anything’s possible, but I’m not ready to say that yet.”

— Ian Shannon “getting a lot of work” as backup to Anders Carlson.

— “Huge focus” is improving kickoff coverage, which Auburn was very bad at last season.

— Along with Chandler Cox and JaTarvious Whitlow, Malzahn says two other guys are getting some Wildcat reps — but he won’t say who. 

— Ian Shannon, Arryn Siposs and Cord Sandberg are all getting looks at holder.

— Coynis Miller “has a skill set” but they’re trying to get him in shape so he can get on the field early this season.

— Last two practices of fall camp, before classes start next week, will be a lot of situational work. May do a scrimmage for the younger players on Sunday if they feel they need more info.

— Take Spikes and Charles Barkley both spoke to the team this week, challenged them to take the next step. “It was a special time, it really was.” Gene Chizik also started off camp speaking to the team.

— Planning a movie night and rookie night, maybe some bowling and stuff. Fall camp “has been good so far, but we got to finish this thing — finish it and build a foundation for this first game.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

 

What Gus Malzahn said about Auburn’s 2nd scrimmage of fall camp

Live updates from Gus Malzahn following Auburn’s second scrimmage of fall camp on Wednesday morning.

Fox Sports CFB analyst rates Auburn outside of top 15 – 247Sports.com


247Sports.com

Fox Sports CFB analyst rates Auburn outside of top 15
247Sports.com
You will not find a lot of rankings out there that project Auburn football outside of the top-15, but Fox Sports' Joel Klatt does. Klatt is a national college football analyst and commentator that is not as high on the Tigers as other outlets. The

New Auburn starting safety Daniel Thomas out to ‘prove everybody wrong’

Once an unheralded prospect, Daniel Thomas is ready to take over as one of Auburn’s starting safeties this season.

New Auburn starting safety Daniel Thomas out to ‘prove everybody wrong’

Once an unheralded prospect, Daniel Thomas is ready to take over as one of Auburn's starting safeties this season.

Watch video

Daniel Thomas was somewhat of an afterthought in Auburn’s 2016 recruiting class — a three-star signing day addition who didn’t receive a scholarship offer until that morning.

Fast forward two seasons, and the once-unheralded prospect finds himself set to take over as one of Auburn’s two starting safeties and an integral part of what defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is doing on that side of the ball.

“I don’t look at that three-star, four-star type stuff,” Thomas said. “I know I was always underrated. Probably still am. I just try to use it as motivation, for real, and that’s really what got me going when I got here and still is keeping me going. I just want to prove everybody wrong. That’s always been my motto: just try to prove the guys wrong.”

Thomas was rated as the No. 100 safety in the nation and No. 1,532 player overall in the 2016 coming out of Lee-Montgomery. He took a late visit to Auburn prior to signing day that year but the following Monday was told the class was “full.” He appeared to be bound for Minnesota — that is, until four-star safety Nigel Warrior chose Tennessee on National Signing Day and he received a last-minute offer from the Tigers.

Doubting Auburn’s secondary? It may get last laugh

It wound up being a good decision by both sides, as Thomas saw the field in 11 games as a freshman, totaling 16 tackles, a pass breakup and a pair of interceptions. Both of those picks came in the 2016 Iron Bowl off Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts after Thomas helped fill in for an injured Rudy Ford.

That was a coming-out party of sorts for Thomas, showing doubters on a national stage that he belonged in the SEC.

“I mean, I hope it did,” Thomas said. “People going to talk regardless, so I just try not to look at it. Just build off it.”

The Montgomery native did just that as a sophomore, appearing in all 14 games last season while seeing time at safety and nickel. He totaled 35 tackles, broke up three passes and added an interception.

Thomas has developed into what linebacker Deshaun Davis described as a “big-bodied safety” who can not only make tackles in the open field but hold his own in coverage against receivers. Now, after a strong spring that included two interceptions in an early scrimmage, Thomas is being counted on — along with Jeremiah Dinson — to take over for departed safeties Stephen Roberts and Tray Matthews.

RELATED: Steele pleasantly surprised by Auburn’s depth at safety

“(Spring) was pretty big, for the coaches, too, to let them know they can trust you,” Thomas said. “In a game situation, they feel like they can make a call, and Daniel Thomas will be able to give it to everybody else.”

That communication factor has been key for Thomas, especially when he combines with Dinson — regarded as the point man in the secondary — and Davis at middle linebacker in the lineup. That triumvirate has worked to build a strong rapport on and off the field, and the results have produced “very minimal” mental errors for the defense, according to Steele.

That reliability, accountability and football savviness is what Thomas hopes he can bring to the defense when the season opens in less than three weeks. It’s also what could make his under-the-radar status a thing of the past, though the 5-foot-11, 208-pounder isn’t too concerned about that.

“I don’t even look at it,” Thomas said. “I know where my heart’s at.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Track ‘Em Tigers Gearing Up For an Exciting Football Season

With just under three weeks till Auburn opens against No.6 Washington in the College Football Kickoff Classic, the staff here at Track ‘Em Tigers are gearing up for the 2018 season. Consequently we’ve put together a full lineup for our readers each day of the week.

The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand!
 will be returning for another season and will lead off the week on Monday mornings. As a college student, Cole brings a fresh perspective to the forum. He is also a sports journalist intern and his experience covering SEC events on the radio gives him a solid foundation for writing about both the Tigers and the South Eastern Conference.

 Zach Taylor will keep a close eye on the recruiting scene, but Zach loves to write about all Auburn sports – especially football. His weekly column will appear on Tuesday mornings. Knowing Zach, we can expect he’ll be contributing various stories at other times throughout the month as well.

On Tuesday evenings WarEagle3020 will bring us the latest on the TET/Yahoo College Football Pick’em Contest. If you haven’t registered for your chance to win the Golden Bo Award, now would be a good time to do so. Here’s the link on how to get started.
 
If you’re a regular here, you must have noticed Sullivan013‘s (a.k.a. Pat Sullivan -not No.7) “Tiger Eye” column has returned. Pat is a wizard with statistical analysis and his articles are always clever and intelligently written. His excellent takes on happenings at Auburn and around college football in general will appear on Wednesdays.

Most of our readers will remember Grant Dozier’s (a.k.a. Aridity: Droughts and Human Development

) excellent coverage of National Signing Day the last couple of years. Grant will post on Friday mornings. Few have the background in Auburn Football that he brings to the table. Whenever you find someone who has attended over 300 Auburn football games, like Grant, it’s always good to get their perspective.

Derrick Roberts does an outstanding job hosting, recording, editing and producing the TET Podcast. Every week during football season, he and co-host Zach Taylor will discuss pertinent questions from the podcast fan base, recruiting, depth charts, and much more. The two covered a lot of ground in Episode 16 last Friday, so if you haven’t heard the first show of the season, you can check it out here. Future podcast will probably hit on Friday evenings. We can expect to see Derrick pen a couple article a month as well.

Finally, we feel there is just no one better at game previews and unit breakdowns than our own Acid Reign. The Acid man will give us his game sneak peeks on Thursdays. And as usual he will also be hosting TET’s Open Thread on game days followed by his post-game wrap up and breakdowns on Sundays.

Of course, our authors WarEagle3020, Michael Val, and MyAuburn, will chime in from time to time with additional articles just as Beyond Blurred Lines: Rape Culture in Popular Media
and I will. Jay is starting his fourteenth year blogging about Auburn Football. His writings are always insightful and thought provoking.

We are all excited about the new season and can hardly wait to get it underway. On behalf of our publisher and the staff here, I want to thank all of you for making Track ’Em Tigers a part of your day. We know you have a lot of options out there, and it means the world to us that you make time for TET. 

We’re excited about covering another season of Auburn Football for you. And we’re looking forward to bringing our readers the best possible coverage we can of the Auburn Tigers!

War Eagle!

The post Track ‘Em Tigers Gearing Up For an Exciting Football Season appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Gene Stallings, Pat Dye talk Alabama QB battle, Nick Saban during Huntsville visit

Stallings and Dye were on hand for the Huntsville Quarterback Club Kickoff Meeting.

Gene Stallings, Pat Dye talk Alabama QB battle, Nick Saban during Huntsville visit

Stallings and Dye were on hand for the Huntsville Quarterback Club Kickoff Meeting.

Even after suffering a heart attack and two strokes, Gene Stallings isn’t thinking about slowing down.

The former Alabama coach began a three-day stretch of speaking engagements in Huntsville on Tuesday night as he joined former Auburn coach Pat Dye for the Huntsville Quarterback Club Kickoff Meeting at The Ledges. After that, Stallings was scheduled to return to his native Texas to speak in Texarkana on Wednesday, then at a high school coaches clinic in Waco on Thursday.

“I stay on the go quite a bit,” he said.

Stallings, 83, suffered a heart attack late last September following strokes in August and May of 2017.

“I had a 1 percent chance to live when I had the heart attack, so I feel very fortunate,” Stallings said. “I’m doing about as well as I can. I try to take care of myself the best I can. I live on a ranch and still stay sort of busy. By and large, I think I’m doing OK.”

Stallings and Dye, 78, have teamed for a number of speaking engagements in recent years. Dye smiled when asked what it was like working with his old rival.

“Coach Stallings and I weren’t rivals; Alabama and Auburn were,” he said. “We’ve got a great friendship. We have a good time every time we get together.”

Stallings and Dye touched on several topics while speaking with the media prior to the meeting.

The Alabama quarterback battle

Stallings: “Can you imagine having two quarterbacks like that on the same team? Lord, have mercy. People talk about it being a problem. I can’t imagine that being a problem for anybody. Players are going to compete as well as they can. They’re going to make them play a little bit better than they ordinarily would, so what a joy to have those two guys on the same team.”

Dye: “Coach (Nick) Saban will handle it the way it’s supposed to be handled. I would think that he would just let them compete and whoever is the best quarterback in practice is going to play. It’s a pretty unique situation where you’ve got a guy like (Jalen) Hurts, who has been as good as he’s been. He actually won two national championships; the defense lost one of them. He did everything that he had to do. He got it down the field; they just scored too quick.”

How Auburn looks

Dye: “I think we’re going to have a good football team and I think we’re going to have an exciting football team. We’ve got some question marks. The offensive line has got to jell and be good enough. I think, defensively, we’re pretty well set across the board with depth. I think our running backs are going to be fine, but we don’t know what the rotation is going to be and who’s going to start.”

How Alabama looks

Stallings: “If I was going to pick the top three teams in the country, it would be Alabama, Clemson and probably Georgia. If I was going to pick a fourth one, it would probably be Ohio State, even though I don’t know what the coaching situation is there. Those are probably the four best teams in the country, but there’s a lot of football to be played between now and the playoffs.”

What makes Saban such a successful coach?

Stallings: “First of all, he gets good players. When you lose as many players as they lost this past year in the draft, a lot of them underclassmen, and yet they’re still picked to be the No. 1 team in the country, that says they’ve got good football players. And they’re well coached. That’s a tough combination to beat.”

Dye: “He’s just a great football coach. He’s at a place where they have great tradition and they’ve done a phenomenal job recruiting top players.”

Will Saban surpass Paul Bryant for most national championships won by a coach (they are tied with six apiece)?

Dye: “I don’t think there’s any question about it, if he stays at Alabama. If he continues to coach, I don’t think he’ll go anywhere.”

The latest on Johnny’s House, a residence for handicapped children in Haiti, that is part of the LiveBeyond non-profit founded by Stallings’ daughter, Laurie Vanderpool, and her husband, Dr. David Vanderpool

Stallings: “They’ve started the project. The handicap children will have a place to eat and sleep. Some of them are going to be living there all the time. It’s going extremely well. They’ve built two hospitals and I can’t tell you how many people they feed every day. They’re making a difference in that part of the world.”

Will an exclusively defensive player ever win the Heisman Trophy?

Dye: “It will probably happen one of these days, but I don’t see it happening this year. I think he’ll have to be in a position where he can make plays and create fumbles and interceptions and do something spectacular.”

Stallings: “It’s a possibility, but most of the time the offensive guys get more ink. There’s been several good defensive players, but I don’t think there’s been one to win the Heisman.”

Daniel Boyette covers Huntsville sports for AL.com.


Kenyan Drake ‘definitely surprised’ by Gabe Wright’s release

In the middle of an offense-vs.-defense melee during the Miami Dolphins' practice on Monday, defensive tackle Gabe Wright went after running back Kenyan Drake. Wright got cut. Drake got a talking-to.

In the middle of an offense-vs.-defense melee during the Miami Dolphins’ practice on Monday, defensive tackle Gabe Wright went after running back Kenyan Drake.

Wright got cut. Drake got a talking-to.

When Miami coach Adam Gase saw Drake in the midst of Monday’s scrum after coming to the aid of fellow running back Senorise Perry, he couldn’t help but think about the final game of the 2017 regular season.

In that game, Drake ran into a dustup with the Buffalo Bills that started after Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry scored a touchdown with 6:16 left in the game. Drake emerged from the ball of pushing-and-shoving players with the helmet of Buffalo defensive end Ryan Davis and flung it across the field.

Drake received an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty and was ejected from the game. The league fined Drake $12,154, the standard amount for a first-time offender for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“We had a conversation about a couple things,” Gase said during his Tuesday press conference about what he said to Drake on Monday. “For me, I lost my cool a little bit because I was a little frustrated that he got upset because that (Buffalo game) was exactly the first thing that popped in my head.

“It’s a little harder to call plays when he’s out of the game or he’s not even available. We talked about that, and at the same time, I think he has a clear understanding of we’re counting on him. There’s a lot of people that if he’s not in the game or he’s not on the sideline or we don’t have him because he’s either ejected or he gets hurt because of something like that, he’s letting a lot of people down.

“I think that hit him to where he understands — he understood where I was coming from. I love his emotion, I love his passion. You don’t want to take that away, but at the same time, he’s a really good player and he’s young and we need to have him on the field.”

Drake told the reporters gathered around him on the field after Tuesday’s practice that he got Gase’s point.

“Whatever the case may be in terms of my temper, me coming to somebody’s help or me starting something, me trying to finish something, at the end of the day you have to always think ahead and think about the future actions of what you do,” Drake said. “That’s on and off the field. And so at the end of the day you’ve got to make sure to put your best foot forward to be who you want to be and who you want to represent for this team and for yourself.”

Sometimes that’s easier said than done, Drake said.

“It’s kind of hard,” Drake said. “Hindsight is very 20-20. First, when it comes to the severity of somebody getting cut in that situation. And two, we’ve been banging for two weeks now. It’s easy to sit on the outside looking in and being like, ‘You should have more composure, you shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that.’

“Anger, tempers flare, things of that sort. You just have to be in that mindset in that moment to have the ability to be proactive in how you can look forward to make sure I’m here the next day. It is what it is. It was a very unfortunate situation. I wish nothing but the best for (Wright).”

The Dolphins announced on Tuesday morning that Wright had been waived.

An Auburn alumnus, Wright has played in 13 games in his three NFL seasons, including one last year for the Dolphins.

Drake is projected to be Miami’s top running back this season after the former Alabama standout led the NFL in rushing yards in December during the 2017 campaign.

“Just a misunderstanding in terms of things got out of hand,” Drake said about Monday’s fight at practice. “It really is what it is, honestly. …

“I was definitely surprised (that Wright was waived), but that’s not a decision I have to make. That’s a decision that the head man and everybody else upstairs have to make, so it’s really out of my hands.”

Gase declined to elaborate when asked about Wright on Tuesday.

“It was time for us to move on,” Gase said. “I don’t really think I need to get into more detail than that. It’s just part of the NFL.”

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Kenyan Drake ‘definitely surprised’ by Gabe Wright’s release

In the middle of an offense-vs.-defense melee during the Miami Dolphins’ practice on Monday, defensive tackle Gabe Wright went after running back Kenyan Drake. Wright got cut. Drake got a talking-to.

D-end target Colby Wooden finalizes announcement plans – 247Sports


247Sports

D-end target Colby Wooden finalizes announcement plans
247Sports
Colby Wooden is just about ready to reveal his college choice. He has told his family. He has told the program that will land his commitment. But now it's time to tell everyone else. “Honestly, I'm ready to get it over with,” Wooden said Tuesday night

and more »

The 2018 Auburn Football Season Tickets

Season ticket packages for the upcoming 2018 Auburn football season have shipped… and some have been received like a deep pass thrown from Jarrett Stidham’s manly hands.

There aren’t any subtle shots (that I’ve seen) in the images like previous years. They are just good solid tickets focused on Auburn’s uniform, the best uniform in sports.

I tell you, though, it’s good to see that ticket prices are going dow… $130 FOR TENNESSEE?! They haven’t won a game in a decade have they? I guess when the new, terrible rotation of SEC East opponents keeps you from playing teams every millennium, people are going to be excited when some teams come to town.

3 Auburn commits earn 5th star from recruiting service

Pinson Valley quarterback Bo Nix and Hoover receiver George Pickens are now 5-stars, according to Rivals.

Auburn’s 2019 recruiting class just got a little more star power.

Three committed players — quarterback Bo Nix from Pinson ValleyHoover receiver George Pickens and Grayson (Ga.) linebacker Owen Pappoe — became five-star prospects, according to updated rankings released today by national recruiting service Rivals.

Five-star prospects are considered the nation’s elite, and recruiting services usually rate about three dozen players nationally as five-stars each year.

Pick1hand.JPGHoover’s George Pickens makes a 1-handed catch at The Opening in Frisco, Texas. (Josh Bean | jbean@al.com)
 

Pickens wowed recruiting analysts at the mid-summer The Opening recruiting showcase in Frisco, Texas, making multiple one-handed catches while playing on the same 7-on-7 squad with Nix. He jumped to No. 12 nationally in the Rivals rankings and is the highest-ranked new five-star in the Class of 2019.

Pickens also supplanted Oxford offensive lineman Clay Webb as the state’s No. 1 prospect, with Webb falling to No. 23 nationally.

“The playmaker has great size and he has performed on an extremely high level on every stage the last few months,” Rivals recruiting analyst Chad Simmons wrote about Pickens. “We knew Pickens was very talented, but he has taken it to a new level this year. He wins jump ball situations, he overpowers cornerbacks, he creates separation and the Auburn commit has quickly emerged as one of the top overall players in the 2019 class.”

Nix finished second in the Elite 11 quarterback competition, as he showcased his passing skills at The Opening while throwing to Pickens and Georgia commit Jadon Haselwood. He also won the Quarterback Skills Challenge at the Rivals 5-Star Challenge in Atlanta in June.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound is now ranked 27th nationally by Rivals and the nation’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback prospect.

“He may not have elite size, but he checks every other box,” Simmons wrote of Nix, whose father, Patrick, played quarterback at Auburn in the 1990s.

Nix & Pickens work well together

Pappoe, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound outside linebacker, moves up to No. 26 nationally and the nation’s No. 1-ranked outside linebacker.

“He is at that new-age linebacker that coaches covet due to his speed, versatility and the ability to stay on the field,” Simmons wrote. “He may not have elite size, but he is so explosive, he makes plays all over the field and Pappoe continued to shine among the best over the summer.”

That means Auburn’s class features three of the nation’s top 27 prospects, according to Rivals, but that’s Auburn’s representatives in the top 100.

Alabama, meanwhile, has six players among the top 100, but none in the top 40.

A-List No. 9: QB Paul Tyson

Alabama’s top-rated player is linebacker Shane Lee, a 6-foot-2, 235-pounder from Baltimore, Maryland. He’s ranked No. 46 nationally.

Hewitt-Trussville lineman and Alabama commit Pierce Quick also fell to No. 57 nationally. A tackle in high school, he’s expected to move inside to guard or center in college.

Thompson lineman and Alabama commit Amari Kight checks in at No. 60 nationally, followed by Daphne defensive back and Alabama commit Christian Williams at No. 95 and Alabama defensive end commit Antonio Alfano, from Colonia (N.J.), at No. 97.

If you’re scoring at home, that gives Alabama six players ranked in Rivals updated top 100 nationally, while Auburn has three.

Get to know Bama’s latest commit

3 Auburn commits earn 5th star from recruiting service

Pinson Valley quarterback Bo Nix and Hoover receiver George Pickens are now 5-stars, according to Rivals.

Doubting Auburn’s secondary? It may get the last laugh

Auburn lost three starters from a secondary that saw the Tigers rank 18th against the pass last season, but returns two of the SEC’s best corners.

Doubting Auburn’s secondary? It may get the last laugh

Auburn lost three starters from a secondary that saw the Tigers rank 18th against the pass last season, but returns two of the SEC's best corners.

With as much talent as Auburn has to replace in the secondary, having lost three starters to the NFL, including second-round pick Carlton Davis, the Tigers return a defensive backfield with ample starting experience and two premier corners.

While the strength of Auburn’s defense, on paper, is the front seven, the notion that the secondary is going to be a glaring weakness is seemingly misguided.

Auburn lost Davis, Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts from a secondary that saw the Tigers rank 18th against the pass last season, but returns Javaris Davis and Jamel Dean, two of the SEC’s best corners, and has Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas taking over at safety.

“I always laughed when people said our back end was going to struggle or that it was the lacking part of our defense,” linebacker Deshaun Davis said. “We have guys back there that are able to make plays. Of course they weren’t big second-round type guys as Carlton was, he’s kind of a one-of-a-kid guy you could say. But Dean is a freak of nature. Javaris made a lot of plays for us last year and was a freshman All-SEC. Daniel Thomas is a big-bodied safety who can come up and tackle, but he has the speed and ability to cover receivers. (Dinson) is the brains of the operation back there. He makes a lot of plays with the ball in the air. He has great ball skills.

“I’m not worried at all. I don’t know how a lot of other people are. That’s just the outlook of it.”

Is Auburn cornerback Javaris Davis being overlooked?

This year’s secondary has significantly fewer career starts entering the season than last year’s group, 36 to 62, but has lots of experience considering it doesn’t have any seniors. Javaris Davis, Dean, Dinson and Thomas have combined to appear in 86 games and Noah Igbinoghene, who is projected to start at corner, appeared in all 14 last season, albeit on offense.

RELATED: Noah Igbinoghene showing physicality to play corner

“It’s not really much of a big difference (from last year) to me,” Dean said. “I feel like we still have the same guys that played last year. We don’t believe in 11 starters. We believe that everybody is a starter. We rotate people in, even freshmen. The freshmen will still get a chance to play. We rotate them in so they can get some experience too, so they can be in the situation like we are in fall camp to just buy into the program.”

There’s no question that the strength of Auburn’s defense is its defensive line, which returns starters Derrick Brown, Dontavius Russell and Marlon Davidson as well as top backups Andrew Williams and Nick Coe, all of whom could end up in the NFL.

A linebacker corps with three senior starters, including Auburn’s top two returning tacklers, also has few question marks.

But the idea that the secondary is going to drag down the front seven is almost insulting when advanced analytics show how dominant Dean and Javaris Davis were in particular.

Jamel Dean, Auburn’s shutdown corner, has a stat he wants to change

Thomas, whose two career starts are fewest of the four returning projected starters, doesn’t believe Auburn lost a lot from the secondary and said he doesn’t listen to those who are skeptical of the unit.

“I just try to block out all the negative talk,” Thomas said, “and just this is what we got right now.”

As much as Matthews and Roberts were lauded for their leadership in the secondary last season, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele speaks of Dinson and Thomas in the same way.

“They’re older, they’re veterans, they’re very smart,” Steele said. “When you go out there with those two, they quarterback the back end back there. The mental errors are minimal.

“Very minimal.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

AL.com All-Access: Most underrated players for Alabama, Auburn in 2018

We all know who the superstars for Alabama and Auburn are, but what about the other guys toiling in relative anonymity?

AL.com All-Access: Most underrated players for Alabama, Auburn in 2018

We all know who the superstars for Alabama and Auburn are, but what about the other guys toiling in relative anonymity?

We all know who the superstars for Alabama and Auburn are.

Tua Tagovailoa, Jonah Williams, Raekwon Davis and Mack Wilson for the Crimson Tide, and Jarrett Stidham, Ryan Davis, Deshaun Davis and Derrick Brown for Tigers are basically household names among their team’s fans. But what about the other guys toiling in relative anonymity?

Here’s my list of the most underrated players for the Crimson Tide and Tigers heading into 2018:

Alabama

Ross Pierschbacher, Sr., OL — Yes, he was a first-team All-SEC performer a year ago, but it doesn’t seem like his name is mentioned much when discussing the Crimson Tide’s best overall players. And yet, Pierschbacher has started 44 consecutive games at left guard, and moves to the all-important center position this fall.

Isaiah Buggs, Sr., DL — On a defense loaded with former five-star prospects, one of the Crimson Tide’s starting defensive ends was barely even recruited out of high school. Buggs started 13 games in his first year at Alabama after transferring from junior college, and played his best football of the season in the playoffs against Clemson and Georgia.

Hale Hentges, Sr., TE — Tight end can be a lonely existence, particularly when surrounded by superstar skill players like on the Alabama offense. Hentges gets the job done as a blocker, and turned three of his seven receptions into touchdowns. Still, it seems like Irv Smith, Miller Forristal and even Kedrick James sometimes get more attention at tight end.

Auburn

Dontavius Russell, Sr., DT — The Tigers have had a number of outstanding defensive linemen in recent years, including Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams and Jeff Holland. Auburn boasts rising stars this year in Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown. Russell, meanwhile, has quietly started 37 games at defensive tackle the last three years, totaling 115 stops.

Darrell Williams, Sr., LB — Williams was a big-time recruit out of high school, and has been very solid if unspectacular throughout his career at Auburn. He has been a starter the last two years and totaled 109 tackles, displaying effectiveness as both a run-stopper and coverage linebacker. In short, even if he never lives up to his recruiting billing, he’s the kind of dependable, durable player every good defense could use.

Marquel Harrell, Jr., OL — Auburn has very few definite answers on its re-tooled offensive line in 2018, but one of them is that Harrell will almost certainly start at left guard. He settled in as the starter at the position after injuries to Casey Dunn and Mike Horton last season, and displayed excellent run-blocking ability — always a key in Gus Malzahn’s offense. Auburn will need his experience this season.

So what do you think? Who would you add to this list?

I’ll take your questions and comments on that or anything else on your mind beginning at 10 a.m.

Dolphins release Gabe Wright after dustup with Kenyan Drake

Defensive tackle Gabe Wright faced an uphill climb to make the Miami Dolphins’ regular-season roster. Apparently, Monday’s training-camp practice made sure he didn’t.

Dolphins release Gabe Wright after dustup with Kenyan Drake

Defensive tackle Gabe Wright faced an uphill climb to make the Miami Dolphins' regular-season roster. Apparently, Monday's training-camp practice made sure he didn't.

Defensive tackle Gabe Wright faced an uphill climb to make the Miami Dolphins’ regular-season roster. Apparently, Monday’s training-camp practice made sure he didn’t.

The Dolphins announced on Tuesday morning that the former Auburn standout had been waived.

Miami’s practice on Monday was marked by several dustups between offensive and defensive players. During the biggest melee, Wright is reported to have gone after Kenyan Drake, the former Alabama standout who’s projected to be the Dolphins’ No. 1 running back this season.

Reports from camp observers varied, with Wright described as blindsiding Drake when the running back had his helmet off, punching Drake or hitting Drake in the back with his elbow.

FOR MORE OF AL.COM’S COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE NFL, GO TO OUR NFL PAGE

Wright joined Miami last year after being released at the end of the preseason by the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent the entire season on the Dolphins’ practice squad except for the final week of the regular season, when he joined the active roster and played in the last game of 2017.

A starter on Auburn’s 2013 SEC championship team, Wright entered the NFL as a fourth-round choice of the Detroit Lions in the 2015 draft.

Wright played seven games for the Lions as a rookie. Wright played five games in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns, who signed Wright for their practice squad after he’d been let go at the end of the preseason.

Wright spent training camp with the Eagles last year and had four tackles and 1.5 sacks in Philadelphia’s preseason finale, but still was released when the team reduced its 90-player preseason roster to the regular-season limit of 53. The Dolphins signed Wright for their practice squad two days later when he cleared waivers.

Gabe WrightMiami Dolphins defensive tackle Gabe Wright walks off the field after practice on Aug. 1, 2018, in Davie, Fla 

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Take 5 with Keith Niebuhr: Notes from the trail – 247Sports


247Sports

Take 5 with Keith Niebuhr: Notes from the trail
247Sports
AUBURN, Alabama — Former Aussie rules football player Arryn Siposs has a big leg and big expectations. The 25-year-old sophomore from Australia arrived stateside just a few weeks ago and he's already made a huge impression on Auburn's special …

Carlton Davis opens pro career with starting assignment in Bucs’ secondary

Cornerback Carlton Davis started in his pro debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. And when the first-team defense went to the bench after the first quarter, Davis stayed on the field with the second unit, giving the rookie an extended opening NFL experience in his hometown of Miami.

Carlton Davis opens pro career with starting assignment in Bucs’ secondary

Cornerback Carlton Davis started in his pro debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. And when the first-team defense went to the bench after the first quarter, Davis stayed on the field with the second unit, giving the rookie an extended opening NFL experience in his hometown of Miami.

Cornerback Carlton Davis started in his pro debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. And when the first-team defense went to the bench after the first quarter, Davis stayed on the field with the second unit, giving the rookie an extended opening NFL experience in his hometown of Miami.

Tampa Bay defeated the Dolphins 26-24 on Thursday night in its preseason opener, with Davis playing 41 defensive snaps, making five tackles and breaking up two passes.

Davis received the starting assignment with Brent Grimes sidelined by an injury, and the former Auburn standout got plenty of attention from Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

“It was great,” Davis said his debut. “I kind of anticipated that they would kind of go at me because I’m a rookie, but I think I handled it well. I’ve got some things to improve on, but it was a good first game.”

Davis attended Norland Senior High School, which is about 1.5 miles from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, the site of Davis’ pro debut.

“It actually made me focus a little bit more, wanting to give a good show to my family and my hometown,” Davis said.

There is at least one play that Davis would like to have back from Thursday night’s game, though. When Miami wide receiver Albert Wilson made a sliding catch for a 12-yard gain on a second-and-16 pass with Davis in coverage, the unhappy cornerback slapped his hands together. Meanwhile, Wilson scrambled to his feet and picked up the first down. Davis hadn’t touched the receiver while he was on the ground. That’s OK in college, but not in the NFL.

“Our whole sideline was screaming,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said. “He was lucky he was on their sideline because he had about 200 people on our sideline screaming at him. When he came off, by the time I got to him, he said, ‘I know! I know!'”

Miami used four quarterbacks who passed for a combined 283 yards while posting an uninspiring collective passer rating of 74.6 for the game.

The Bucs gave up more passing yards than any team in the NFL last season. Tampa Bay used second-round draft picks to add Davis and North Carolina cornerback M.J. Stewart and chose Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead in the fourth round.

Stewart played 54 defensive snaps and Whitehead was on the field for 52 on Thursday as the Bucs took a good look at their top rookies in the secondary.

“I thought all three of those rookie DBs competed hard,” Koetter said. “That’s what you want to see. They all played physical. They all tackled well. They all have things to work on as well. We’re pleased for their first game. I think the new players, the rookies in general, might have been a little bit nervous (Thursday) night, and that’s to be expected. First NFL game. But those three DBs, they really did a good job. …

“I thought the game wasn’t too big for them. I thought they all played physical, and I think all three of them had plays where the ball was in the air and left their feet and laid out to prevent a completion.”

When the Buccaneers return to preseason action on Saturday against the Tennessee Titans, the rookies could be in for another extended stay on the field. Against the Dolphins, starting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves suffered a groin injury, and while he’s expected to be ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 9, Tampa Bay will take it easy with him the rest of the preseason to make sure he is.

When Hargreaves returns, Grimes intimated that he’d prefer to see one of the rookies win the starting job opposite him on the field because he thinks the Tampa Bay defense is better when Hargreaves handles the slot-cornerback duties.

“In my eyes, when he’s playing inside at nickel, he really seems to be much more comfortable,” Grimes said. “I’ve seen that out of him. He’s always had skills, always can play the ball, always has good feet — things like that. You can tell he’s a little more comfortable with that nickel position, because compared to outside, it’s a lot more knowing checks and motions and he seems to just be playing, not as much thinking about what’s going on. He looks comfortable.”

The Bucs and Titans kick off at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee. TV stations broadcasting the game include WFNA 55 in Gulf Shores, WMBB 13 in Panama City and WZDX 54 and WZDX 54.2 in Huntsville.

FOR MORE OF AL.COM’S COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE NFL, GO TO OUR NFL PAGE

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

 

Speed, defense, and a downright reckless schedule? It must be another Auburn football season! – SB Nation


SB Nation

Speed, defense, and a downright reckless schedule? It must be another Auburn football season!
SB Nation
Bill C's annual preview series of every FBS team in college football continues. Catch up here! Malzahn enters as the assistant dean of the SEC. Only Nick Saban has been a head coach longer. (Kentucky's Mark Stoops entered in 2013 too, but we'll say the
#11 Auburn Tigers Season Preview – Can the Tigers Be the Best in Their State?Winners and Whiners (blog)



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The Auburn Podcast: More good recruiting news on the way? – 247Sports


247Sports

The Auburn Podcast: More good recruiting news on the way?
247Sports
Welcome to The Auburn Podcast, your daily Auburn sports podcast presented by Auburn Undercover and hosted by Zac Blackerby. On the show Tuesday, Blackerby is joined by Keith Niebuhr, Auburn recruiting insider for Auburn Undercover. The guys talk …

TIME TO SIGN UP!!! 11th Annual TRACK’EM TIGERS COLLEGE PICK’EM is Here!!!

Get ready! That magical time of the year is now at our front door as we gear up for another exciting year of college football. I know I can’t wait as we are now just days away from kicking off a new college football season. With that being said, it is ROLL CALL for all you pick ‘em experts to sign up for our 11th ANNUAL TRACK ‘EM TIGERS PICK ‘EM Contest. The first week’s games are already listed and ready to pick, and everyone is welcome to play whether you are an Auburn Tiger fan, SEC fan, or any other conference or team fan! We invite you to have some fun with us and test your picking skills (football that is).

If you haven’t signed up yet, you’ll need to create a Yahoo email account if you don’t already have one. Then go here. Insert our Group #4480: and the password, which is: tigers. Try to use the pickset name that you use on TET, so you’re easier to identify to other players. For example, my pickset name is Wareagle3020.

Here are the RULES:

Each week we will provide a slate of Top 25 and SEC games where you choose the winner Against The Spread. At the beginning of each week, we’ll post the previous Saturday’s winners and publish a ranking of the top-25 participants in our TET contest. At the end of the regular season, whoever has chosen the most number of games correctly wins the ultimate prize in all of fantasy sports, the Golden Bo Award trophy.

1. Be sure to check the date and time of each kickoff. Sometimes games may be on Friday. Picks for week one are already listed.
2. It’s important to fill out the tiebreakers because the top of the leader board will probably be congested early in the season. 
3. Spreads can change during the week so check your picks closer to the end of the week to see if you want to make any changes. 
4. You can change your pick for each game up to 5 minutes before kickoff. 
5. If you fail to make a selection for a game, you will lose that pick. Therefore, be sure to check your list of picks.
6. If you should fail to pick one game in a week, it will not jeopardize your other picks. 
7. Each player’s two lowest week’s worth of picks will be dropped. Although this is calculated immediately, it’s still in play until the end. 
8. That means players can join the fun during week 3 and still have a fighting chance. Be sure to tell your friends about this.
9. Try to play the entire season. 
10. Please note that each week’s games and spreads don’t show up until Monday or sometimes Tuesday.

As usual, we will have the Top 25 games to pick and all SEC conference games as well. Let’s see who can demonstrate the best prognosticating efforts against other TET contributors and readers.

The overall winner this season will receive what has to be the most prestigious award in all of fantasy sports, the Golden Bo Trophy. The top 2 runners up will receive Track’ Em Tigers T shirts. We Are less than two weeks before the football season begins, so be sure and sign up and tell your friends about the Pick ’Em Contest here at TET.

War Eagle!

The post TIME TO SIGN UP!!! 11th Annual TRACK’EM TIGERS COLLEGE PICK’EM is Here!!! appeared first on Power Over Ethernet Interoperability Guide

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Sal Cannella gives Auburn ‘different element’ at slot receiver with Will Hastings out

After a disappointing debut in 2017, Sal Cannella could help fill the void at slot as Will Hastings recovers from a spring ACL tear.

Sal Cannella gives Auburn ‘different element’ at slot receiver with Will Hastings out

After a disappointing debut in 2017, Sal Cannella could help fill the void at slot as Will Hastings recovers from a spring ACL tear.

Two injuries at wide receiver have opened up an opportunity for a bigger offensive role for Sal Cannella.

With Will Hastings and Eli Stove both recovering from spring ACL injuries, Auburn has turned to Cannella to help fill its slot receiver position in fall camp. Cannella, who signed with Auburn out of JUCO as a tight end, provides the Tigers with a bigger look than the team has traditionally used in the slot — something that could give the offense a new wrinkle when it opens the season Sept. 1 against Washington.

“He’s a bigger guy, so he brings a different element to the game, different route-running, he’s a bigger target as well, so it’s kind of fun to see him as a bigger guy in that role,” receiver Ryan Davis said. “He brings a different matchup problem to defenses, as well, he has some wiggle to him, he has great route-running stuff, so it’s good to see him in that role and see him do something different as well.”

The 6-foot-5, 232-pound Cannella was expected to be a “matchup nightmare” at tight end when he signed with Auburn prior to last season, as the Tigers spoke of expanding the tight end role within the offense. Under offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, the Tigers utilized more tight-end sets last season but did not incorporate the position much in the passing game.

Projected Auburn depth chart for Week 2 of fall camp

Cannella finished his first season on the Plains with just three receptions for 31 yards in 10 games and did not see the field in either of Auburn’s final two games of the season, losses to Georgia and UCF. For the year, Cannella was targeted just eight times — receiving just 2.1 percent of Auburn’s targets in the passing game — and touted just a 37.5 percent catch rate, according to an advanced statistical profile compiled by Football Study Hall.

Cannella figures to see more opportunities in the passing game this season, according to Lindsey.

“Sal is a really versatile guy,” Lindsey said. “He has played some tight end, he has played some slot, he has played what we call our big three, which is kind of H-back kind of deal…. Sal has got a chance to help us in a lot of ways. He is a long, athletic guy. He did have a very good spring and he has shown some flashes in the fall. I think he will have a big role for us.”

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said receivers coach Kodi Burns will probably rotate a couple of players at the slot position, with freshman Matthew Hill — who has earned ample praise in fall camp — another possibility, but Cannella is the veteran most likely to help fill the role held by Hastings (26 catches, 525 yards and four touchdowns last year). So far in fall camp, according to quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Cannella has gotten “a lot of balls” and made “a lot of plays.”

“Sal’s been great,” Stidham said. “He’s really taking it a step up this fall, I think. He’s worked really hard throughout this whole summer and I think he’s ready for this season; I think he’s going to take another step forward this season, and I think we need him to. He’s obviously a big body and can catch well.

“He can go up and he can high-point the ball, so he’s been doing some really good things as a bigger slot than maybe we haven’t had before, so it’s kind of a new thing that I think we’ve added a bit to our offense. He’s been doing some really good things, I think.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Peyton Barber No. 1 RB in Tampa Bay Bucs’ backfield

So far, so good for Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber. The former Auburn standout isn't going to hog the carries for the Bucs this season — that was never going to happen. But after a good showing in Tampa Bay's preseason opener last week, Barber remains as the Buccaneers' RB1.

So far, so good for Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber. The former Auburn standout isn’t going to hog the carries for the Bucs this season — that was never going to happen. But after a good showing in Tampa Bay’s preseason opener last week, Barber remains as the Buccaneers’ RB1.

After Tampa Bay finished 27th among the NFL’s 32 teams in rushing last season, the Bucs released veteran Doug Martin, who’d been supplanted by Barber down the stretch, and drafted Southern Cal running back Ronald Jones in the second round in April.

After Monday’s practice, Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter affirmed that Barber is the Bucs’ starter at running back.

“We’ll see how it works out,” Koetter said. “We’re not really leaning in any direction right now. We’ll see how it works out. Peyton’s our starter, and we’re going to definitely use Ronald Jones and take advantage of what he can do. We do have the two veteran backs (Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims) behind him. Again, we have three more preseason games. Let’s just let it sort out a little bit more. We could go either of those ways, though. We’ll see how it sorts out.”

Tampa Bay defeated the Miami Dolphins 26-24 on Thursday night in its preseason opener.

Barber played with the first-team offense in the first quarter, and Jones came in when the second-team offense took the field in the second quarter. In three seasons at Southern Cal, Jones ran for 3,619 yards and 39 touchdowns on 591 carries.

On Tampa Bay’s opening offensive series of the preseason, the Bucs reached the Miami 20-yard line on two passes by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Barber ran the ball on three of the next four snaps, gaining 18 yards and scoring on a 4-yard carry with 7:06 left in the first quarter.

Barber opened Tampa Bay’s second possession with a 3-yard run and also caught two passes in the series — one for a 2-yard gain, the other for a 3-yard loss. After the Bucs punted, Barber’s night was over.

Koetter said even though Barber was the No. 1 running back, Tampa Bay would use its other running backs when the regular season arrives.

“Peyton could be a three-down player if we asked him to,” Koetter said. “The reason you don’t see a whole lot of three-down backs in the NFL is just because it’s hard on them. It’s hard. They get tired. They take a pounding. I don’t think any position gets hit more and gets hit harder than running back in the NFL. Linemen, of course, are hitting each other every play, but usually when those backs get hurt, somebody’s got a 10- yard running start when they hit them.

“I do not think that we’ll be going with a three-down back just because I think it’s very hard to do. I think those guys that are that in the league are really on an elite status.”

Barber left Auburn after running for 1,047 yards and 13 touchdowns during his sophomore season, and he had to make it into the NFL the hard way after being bypassed in the 2016 draft.

Barber played in 15 games as a Tampa Bay rookie, even getting a starting assignment because of injuries. He had 55 rushing attempts for 223 yards and one touchdown — a 44-yard run on his 10th NFL carry — and caught five passes for 28 yards in 2016.

Last season, Barber played 69 snaps with the Bucs’ offense, ran for 88 yards on 30 carries and caught four passes for 31 yards in the first 11 games. But in the final five games of 2017, he played 185 offensive snaps, ran for 335 yards on 78 carries and caught 12 passes for 83 yards. The December surge allowed Barber to finish as the Bucs’ leading rusher last season with 423 yards.

Koetter said Barber had lost weight in the offseason, reporting for training camp at 225 pounds, about 13 fewer than he weighed last year.

“I think he has looked a little bit quicker,” Koetter said.

Barber said he paid close attention to what he ate and “ran at the hottest point of the day” during the summer break between the end of the minicamp and the start of training camp.

FOR MORE OF AL.COM’S COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE NFL, GO TO OUR NFL PAGE

The Buccaneers visit the Tennessee Titans at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday for the second of their four preseason games.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Peyton Barber No. 1 RB in Tampa Bay Bucs’ backfield

So far, so good for Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber. The former Auburn standout isn’t going to hog the carries for the Bucs this season — that was never going to happen. But after a good showing in Tampa Bay’s preseason opener last week, Barber remains as the Buccaneers’ RB1.

Montavious Atkinson’s wait to be a full-time starter is over – 247Sports


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Montavious Atkinson's wait to be a full-time starter is over
247Sports
AUBURN, Alabama — Finding a way onto the football field has not been a problem for Montavious Atkinson throughout a majority of his Auburn career. From seeing action instantly as a true freshman free safety against Louisville in 2015 to cementing

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Safety depth suddenly not a concern for Auburn – 247Sports


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Safety depth suddenly not a concern for Auburn
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AUBURN, Alabama — Former Aussie rules football player Arryn Siposs has a big leg and big expectations. The 25-year-old sophomore from Australia arrived stateside just a few weeks ago and he's already made a huge impression on Auburn's special …

Desmond Howard on Tua vs. Jalen, Jarrett Stidham & Urban Meyer’s future

College GameDay analyst spoke in Mobile on Monday

The hottest on-field topic in college football just might be the quarterback battle at Alabama, and ESPN’s Desmond Howard is the latest to weigh in.

Howard, the Michigan Heisman Trophy winner and current College GameDay analyst, was in the state Monday night to speak to the C Spire 1st & 10 Club at the Mobile Marriott. He said that he believes Nick Saban ultimately will — and should — choose Tua Tagovailoa over Jalen Hurts to start at quarterback for the Crimson Tide based on Tagovailoa’s performance in the second half of last season’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game victory over Georgia.

“I personally think that the offense opens up better when Tua is up under center,” Howard said. “I know we have a small sample size, but it’s a pretty significant sample against one of the top defenses in the country. I think I would probably lean toward starting Tua because of his skill set.”

Howard wasn’t completely dismissive of Hurts’ abilities, however.

“Can you win a national championship with Jalen?,” Howard said. “I can’t say that you can’t.”

Despite growing up in Ohio, Howard signed with Michigan in 1988 after a standout career at Cleveland’s St. Joseph High School. Aside from Michigan and Ohio State, among the other schools that recruited him was Michigan State.

Saban was an assistant coach with the Spartans through Howard’s junior year of high school, and recruited the talented running back/defensive back before departing for the NFL. Howard — who went on to be an outstanding wide receiver and kick returner both at Michigan and in the NFL, where he was named MVP of Super Bowl 41 with the Green Bay Packers — said he had a chance to revisit his recruitment years later when Saban was a guest on the GameDay set.

“I was a tailback in high school, but I also led the state with 10 interceptions,” Howard said. “I asked him one day, he was on GameDay. This was not in front of the cameras. I said ‘you guys were recruiting me, you were a defensive coach, had I signed at Michigan State, at what position would you have played me? Would I have played defensive back?’ He said ‘no, all of our special athletes played on offense. You would have been on offense.’ But I would have played DB if he had wanted me to.”

Howard also addressed several other college football topics:

On Auburn’s chances to contend for a playoff spot this year:

“Week 1, Washington, we’ll know. They’re returning (double-digit) starters, Jarrett Stidham is a guy that some people say could be a first-round pick in the NFL draft; I’m not necessarily sure about that. He has NFL talent. Week 1’s going to be big for them. We’re going to know a lot about Auburn right out the gate, which is a good thing to me.”

On the ongoing controversy at Ohio State, where head coach Urban Meyer is currently on administrative leave:

“I can’t tell you what the right move is, but I just think that he will coach (in 2018). When the news first came out, everybody said he was done, he was fired. There’s no way he could survive. I was like ‘just watch it play out. He will coach.'”

On Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, and whether or not his job is in jeopardy after a subpar 2017 season:

“I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s on thin ice. I just don’t.”

On whether or not Georgia has closed the gap on Alabama in the SEC:

“The national championship (game) is an indication of how close they are, but we’ll see. To me, it’s like ‘what are you using to gauge that?’ Nick Saban has a dynasty down there. Is Georgia a dynasty? No. They went to one national championship game. How close are they? I don’t know how to measure that. They have a long way to go to reach that level.”

Desmond Howard on Tua vs. Jalen, Jarrett Stidham & Urban Meyer’s future

College GameDay analyst spoke in Mobile on Monday

Leader emerges in Auburn Tigers battle at right tackle – 247Sports


247Sports

Leader emerges in Auburn Tigers battle at right tackle
247Sports
The picture is becoming clear for some of the biggest battles in Auburn's preseason camp.

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Mike Horton comfortable at center if Auburn needs

With less than three weeks until Auburn opens the season against Washington, who will start at center is still undetermined

Mike Horton is in uncharted territory.

The redshirt-junior has never played center in a competitive football game, but with less than three weeks until Auburn opens the season against Washington he is splitting time snapping the ball as the starting center and at right guard.

“(Center is) a new position so of course I had to get used to it, but right now I feel comfortable enough to where if I had to in a game I could play it,” Horton said. “Practice was good. I liked that they made me do that because it put me in a position where I had to adjust.”

Horton said his snaps have been “great” and he’s comfortable making the offensive line’s calls at center if need be.

While he’ll play wherever the coaching staff needs him to, Horton made it sound as though he’s going to end up at guard and Kaleb Kim will start at center.

They split time at center during Auburn’s first fall scrimmage last Thursday and could do so again during the second scrimmage on Wednesday. Gus Malzahn indicated Horton could still see time at center, but the 6-foot-4, 324-pound lineman made it sound as though he’s seen less of that position so far this week.

“I ain’t really repped (center) too much, but they gave me a couple of reps in the scrimmage and it’s been going good. We’ll see how it goes,” Horton said. “More recently I’ve just been playing guard, but we’ll see how it goes later this week.”

RELATED: Has a favorite emerged in Auburn’s right tackle competition?

Kim worked with the first-team during pre-practice drills on Monday, as has been the case for all of Auburn nine practices of fall camp.

“He’s actually grown a lot,” left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. said. “I believe like with him, too, we’ve actually got a way to grow and move forward. He’s been good, too.”

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Kim has appeared in 10 games as a backup during his career, but has ample practice experience.

As one of five redshirt-juniors on the offensive line, Kim’s part of the same core group with Horton, Wanogho and left guard Marquel Harrell.

“Very smart guy; he’s very technically sound and I think that that’s his biggest asset,” Horton said. “That’s what will get him the farthest. … Even though he hasn’t played with us in a game, he has before (in practice). We’ve already worked with him. So it’s not going to be a problem. He knows what he’s doing; he’s good.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Mike Horton comfortable at center if Auburn needs

With less than three weeks until Auburn opens the season against Washington, who will start at center is still undetermined

Has a favorite emerged in Auburn’s right tackle competition?

Jack Driscoll and Austin Troxell have been competing for the starting job on the offensive line for Auburn.

Auburn has not officially settled on a starting offensive line, but a leader appears to be emerging at right tackle with less than three weeks to go until the season opener against Washington.

UMass grad transfer Jack Driscoll has been working with the first-team offense at right tackle this week, according to offensive linemen Mike Horton and Prince Tega Wanogho Jr., as he continues to compete with redshirt freshman Austin Troxell for the starting job.

“I’m not a coach, but both players right now are pretty good,” Wanogho said. “Jack is pretty good. Troxell is pretty good. We’ve got Jack right now going with the orange group. Wherever the coaches decide they’re going to be in there, they’re going to be in there.”

Driscoll was seen working with the first-team offense during Monday’s viewing window, which marked the last time practice will be open to the media this fall. That was a change from last week, when Troxell was getting the first-team reps in two practices that media got glimpses of.

The latter shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, given Troxell has been around the program for a season, while Driscoll arrived in the summer and was getting acclimated to practices early on.

“I think Jack really just came in and attacked everything,” Horton said. “He never had any drop-off or period where he had to adjust. It seems like he’s just always here. That’s how we all felt. Like even in workouts and everything, he just competes with everybody and he just does what he has to do.”

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Driscoll was described as a “freak athlete” by quarterback Jarrett Stidham this summer, as he impressed his new teammates in the weight room. In just more than a week, that has seemingly translated to the field as the one-time two-star prospect is pushing ahead in the Tigers’ right tackle competition.

While Horton said he can’t tell if a first-team line has been set, coach Gus Malzahn said he wanted to fast-track the competitions on the line and have them settled after the team’s first scrimmage, which took place last Thursday with the battle “very close” between the two players. With time to review film from that 100-play scrimmage, and now three additional practices under their belt, Driscoll seems to be inching toward the starting job — though Horton said they will have to see what the coaches have planned the rest of the week.

Still, Driscoll — who has 20 career starts to his name, including five against SEC competition —  has managed to impress with his athleticism, footwork and overall ability, with Wanogho saying teammates refer to the newcomer as a “fake version of Braden Smith,” the former Auburn All-America right guard who was drafted in the second round of this spring’s NFL Draft.

“He’s very athletic and he definitely has some aggression to him, so I like that,” Horton said.

Though Driscoll appears to have the edge after nine practices, Troxell will remain in the mix until the position is officially settled. Auburn does not release a depth chart to the public until game week, so the starting job could remain up for grabs until then — unless Malzahn says otherwise this preseason or offensive line coach J.B. Grimes names a starting five when assistant coaches speak to the media on Thursday.

“Austin Troxell looks good too,” Horton said. “Him and Jack both been rotating, so they both look pretty good. I can’t really tell a difference between them right now.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Has a favorite emerged in Auburn’s right tackle competition?

Jack Driscoll and Austin Troxell have been competing for the starting job on the offensive line for Auburn.

Former Auburn wide receiver Myron Burton Jr. arrested for armed robbery in Georgia

Former Auburn wide receiver Myron Burton Jr., who left the program prior to the 2015 season, was arrested for armed robbery in Georgia.

 

Former Auburn wide receiver Myron Burton Jr., who left the program prior to the 2015 season, was arrested for armed robbery in Georgia.

Duluth Police say they identified Burton Jr., 21, as the subject of an armed robbery of China Taste, an area restaurant, on Aug. 7.

A restaurant employee told police a “younger clean shaven black male” came into the restaurant around 3:40 p.m. Aug. 7 with a gun and demanded money, according to the police report, which states she handed him $300 from a register. The restaurant provided police with surveillance footage of the incident, according to the police report.

Duluth Police announced they conducted a search warrant of Burton Jr.’s residence and placed him under arrest on Friday.

Burton Jr. remains in custody without bond at the Gwinnett County Jail on charges of armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Gwinnett County Jail records show Burton Jr. was previously arrested for pointing a firearm at another individual in April 2017.

Burton Jr., whose father played defensive line for the Tigers in the early 1990s, redshirted in 2014 and left Auburn prior to the 2015 season for what Gus Malzahn called a “mutual decision” just months after he was the offensive MVP of the team’s spring game, when he had seven catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.

A former football and baseball star at Peachtree Ridge High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., Burton Jr. later attended Mesa Community College in Arizona in 2016, where he had one punt return for no yards.

He also was an aspiring model.

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Former Auburn wide receiver Myron Burton Jr. arrested for armed robbery in Georgia

Former Auburn wide receiver Myron Burton Jr., who left the program prior to the 2015 season, was arrested for armed robbery in Georgia.

Watch Australian Arryn Siposs boom punts at Auburn practice – 247Sports


247Sports

Watch Australian Arryn Siposs boom punts at Auburn practice
247Sports
AUBURN, Alabama — Former Aussie rules football player Arryn Siposs has a big leg and big expectations. The 25-year-old sophomore from Australia arrived stateside just a few weeks ago and he's already made a huge impression on Auburn's special …

Freshman running back Asa Martin pushing to ascend Auburn’s depth chart

A relative newcomer is making the most significant strides thus far in Auburn's running back competition.

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A relative newcomer is making the most significant strides thus far in Auburn’s running back competition.

True freshman Asa Martin, a mid-year enrollee, is vying for playing time in a crowded backfield and has been third or fourth in the running back rotation through Auburn’s first nine practices.

“He’s off to a good start,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He’s out there and the fact that he came in the spring, he doesn’t look like a freshman right now. That’s probably the best way to put it. He is bigger and stronger than when he first got here. He has that attitude that he’s wanting to play. He’s a real confident guy.”

Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said the 5-foot-11, 209-pound Martin has been a “surprise” thus far.

Asa Martin added nine pounds in the offseason and is more of an all-around runner than Kam Martin, who is in line to be the starter, and slightly smaller than redshirt-freshman JaTarvious Whitlow.

“We knew he was going be a good player,” Lindsey said. “He’s a smart guy. He was well coached in high school so you can tell he understands what’s going on. … The SEC is a man’s league, so he’s got to be ready to go. It’s a big jump to come from high school to the SEC. He’s done a nice job of getting his body in the best shape he can to be prepared.”

On A-Day, Asa Martin had 17 carries for 66 yards, with just two that resulted in a loss.

He had a few powerful runs during Auburn’s first fall scrimmage on Thursday.

“He has a bite to him,” linebacker Deshaun Davis said. “He’s not scared. He’s not really big, but when he runs the ball, he runs with power.”

The deciding factor for where Asa Martin ends up on the depth chart could be pass protection, an area where he’s quickly demonstrated he’s capable.

“Asa played in a really good (high school) program that understands – they protected,” Lindsey said. “That is the way they did it. Now, he has still got protect different guys – bigger guys, faster guys, whatever. As long as he gets in that rhythm with the speed of the game he should be fine and he is a very intelligent guy.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

 

Freshman running back Asa Martin pushing to ascend Auburn’s depth chart

A relative newcomer is making the most significant strides thus far in Auburn’s running back competition.

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