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Opening Regional notebook: Alabama target Maurice Robinson set on one position

Emptying the notebook from last week’s New Orleans Opening Regional

Opening Regional notebook: Alabama target Maurice Robinson set on one position

Emptying the notebook from last week's New Orleans Opening Regional

Alabama and LSU have emerged as the two biggest offers so far for Murphy standout Maurice Robinson.

But it’s LSU who is giving the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Robinson, a three-star recruit on 247Sports, a chance to play quarterback.

“That’s my goal right now,” Robinson said. “I’m getting more quarterback-oriented offers and it’s working out.”

Along with LSU, Robinson has dual-threat quarterback offers from Memphis, Troy and Georgia State.

Alabama and Florida are recruiting him as athletes. He earned an offer at a Junior Day for Alabama, and is in constant contact with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

“I never was really an Alabama fan when I first got there, but when I went up there to see their program, I was pretty impressed,” Robinson said last Sunday at the New Orleans Opening Regional.

Robinson worked at quarterback and was throwing with the top quarterbacks and receivers. This was a day after a visit to LSU.

“It was good,” Robinson said. “I loved it. I’ve been there a couple of times before and I’ve always been impressed. I like what the new coach (Ed Orgeron) has come in and he’s pretty dominant about what he’s trying to do.”

Robinson has a trip planned to Tulane on April 22. His next visit to Alabama will be for a camp.

Finalizing coverage from last Sunday’s New Orleans Opening Regional

** One Louisiana prospect with Alabama and Auburn offers is Joseph Foucha, a three-star cornerback. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound Foucha preps at McDonogh 35 in New Orleans.

He has camped at Alabama in the past, but just recently got an Alabama offer.

“I was waiting on it,” Foucha said. I felt that I favored them. When I went to camp, I got to work with Coach (Nick) Saban and he taught me some things that DBs do for him.

“We had a long conversation. He asked me what I wanted to play. He said he wanted to offer me.

It makes me feel good. I’ve been having a good feeling about them. I learned a lot from them.”

Auburn offered him earlier in his recruitment, but Foucha has not yet been.

“I just like the swagger,” Foucha said. “When Cam Newton was there, when he left, I still like them. I want to get up there and feel the place because I’ve never been. I want to bond with the coaches and get around campus.”

How early adversity molded Alabama commit Jordan Davis

** AL.com was unable to catch up with Ferriday, La., lineman Dare Rosenthal on Sunday. He was once committed to Alabama as an offensive lineman. The 6-foot-7, 327-pound Rosenthal is now a four-star recruit on the defensive line, but didn’t make the top 5 defensive linemen at the regional.

“I’m probably swinging towards Alabama right now,” Rosenthal told Scout.com. “The relationship with coach Dunbar has me leaning that way. He hits me up every week.”

** There are always cases, we think, of recruits telling people what they think they want to hear. For instance, four-star receiver Jacob Copeland from Pensacola, Fla., told AL.com that Alabama was not in the mix, while Auburn is. He told SECCountry that Alabama is certainly still in the mix. Mobile four-star defensive end Andres Fox didn’t mention LSU as one of his top schools to AL.com but told Louisiana outlets that LSU is in his top three with Alabama and Auburn.

From my vantage point, Fox’s interest in LSU seems more legit than Copeland’s with Alabama.

** There is another Nike Opening Regional in Atlanta. Look for a preview of that soon and coverage following the event on Sunday.

Check out the coverage from the New Orleans event.

Saraland QB Jack West earns Elite 11 invite, plus other notes

Why elite WR Terrace Marshall isn’t considering Alabama any more

Why Auburn target Timaje Porter pushed back commitment date

WR Jacob Copeland has strong bond with Auburn assistant

Auburn in mix for Louisiana lineman Cameron Wire

OL Jerome Carvin talks Alabama, Auburn offers

Alabama trying to flip LSU elite cornerback commit Kelvin Joseph

Nick Saban likes elite athlete Joshua Moore on both sides of the ball

Mobile DE Andres Fox starting to narrow down recruitment

How early-life adversity molded Alabama commit Jordan Davis

Daniel Robert pitches, hits No. 20 Auburn to road victory at Georgia

Butch Thompson has mentioned a few times this season the idea of giving out “game balls” to the top performers in Auburn’s victories.

What Gus Malzahn is looking for in Auburn’s first spring scrimmage

With seven practices in the books, the Tigers will get a chance to take what they’ve been working on for three weeks to a game-like situation.

What Gus Malzahn is looking for in Auburn’s first spring scrimmage

With seven practices in the books, the Tigers will get a chance to take what they've been working on for three weeks to a game-like situation.

Watch video

The most useful evaluation yet this spring will come Saturday morning when Auburn scrimmages for the first time at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

With seven practices in the books, the Tigers will get a chance to take what they’ve been working on for three weeks to a game-like situation.

Though it will be “pretty basic football,” Gus Malzahn and his staff will be looking at plenty of areas of emphasis during the scrimmage.

“I think it’s more of just from an evaluation standpoint,” Malzahn said. “Who can tackle? Who can protect the football? Who can break a tackle? Who can make a play when it’s a scrimmage-type situation?

“You have situational things in spring and you’re evaluating, you’re rotating a bunch of guys and in the scrimmage, that’s when it gets real football. A lot of times guys react differently in those situations.”

The starting units on both sides of the ball are full of returning personnel, part of why there is an apparent “night and day” difference on the defense from a year ago, along with a returning coordinator.

There are also eight true and redshirt freshmen, including quarterbacks Woody Barrett and Malik Willis, who are expected to see some action, not to mention the most important addition in transfer Jarrett Stidham.

“We challenged our guys that are returning starters – take that next step, take that next step to be an impact player,” Malzahn said. “Then of course we challenged our young guys; and a handful of young guys that we feel like after five practices we’ve kind of figured out, man those guys have a chance to help to help us, they need to take that next step.

“So, it’s kind of all of the above but from a coach’s standpoint, you really look forward to those type of spring scrimmages. You learn a whole lot about the team.”

As of Tuesday, Malzahn had not decided if any of the quarterbacks will be live, but said he was looking forward to seeing how Barrett and Willis reacted.

But the most attention will be on Stidham, the presumed favorite to ultimately win the job, in his first game-like action with the Tigers.

“(What stands out is his) arm strength,” wide receiver Ryan Davis said. “He’s very smart and intelligent, and he knows what he’s going to do before he do it. He has a great understanding of the offense and of defenses.”

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Cal grad transfer in Auburn for official visit

Aaron Cochran played in 28 games for the Bears with 16 starts

Cal grad transfer Aaron Cochran is taking an official visit to Auburn Friday through Sunday, AL.com has confirmed. 247Sportswas first to report the news.

The 6-foot-8, 350-pound offensive tackle from Atwater, Calif., will be eligibly to play immediately this fall as a grad transfer. He has narrowed his choices to Auburn, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech according toESPN’s Jake Trotter.Cochran had three offensive line coaches in four years at Cal including Brandon Jones, who is now at Texas Tech.

Auburn twooffensive tacklesin the 2017 recruiting cycle — five-star prospect Calvin Ashley and four-star Austin Troxell.

Cochran was a three-star prospect and the nation’s No. 39 offensive tackle in the 247Sports Composite when he signed with California in 2013. After a redshirt he appeared 28 games for the Bears with 16 starts before announcing his intentions to transfer last month.

Ten of Cochran’sstarts came last season at left tackle as Cochran helped Cal’s offense rank fourth nationally in passing offense, No. 10 in total offense, No. 22 in scoring offense and No. 23 in sacks allowed.

Cochran is the second grad transfer to take an official visit to the Plains this month. Former Texas Tech defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko visited March 5.

Fehoko ‘speechless’ after Auburn visit

Massive Pac-12 grad transfer in Auburn for official visit

Aaron Cochran played in 28 games for Cal last season with 16 starts

Auburn equestrian defeats Texas A&M, advances to face Georgia in SEC Championship

The genesis of the Auburn equestrian team’s impressive regular-season-ending run — a rout of Tennessee-Martin, a win at South Carolina and road victories over No. 1 Baylor and No. 2 Texas A&M on back-to-back days — was loss to Georgia…

Linebacker Chandler Wooten ‘don’t look like a freshman’ in first spring at Auburn

Travis Williams tries his best not to look at stars. The number of stars next to a high school recruit’s name is a representation of what other talent evaluators see. Williams would rather form his own opinions.

2017 Auburn signee Chuma Okeke named Mr. Georgia Basketball

Chuma Okeke isn’t the top-rated 2017 recruit in the state of Georgia, but he’ll come to Auburn next season as arguably the state’s biggest basketball star.

Auburn’s Darrell Williams building on sophomore experience

After getting his feet wet in 2015, Darrell Williams came into his own as a sophomore last fall.

Auburn’s Darrell Williams building on sophomore experience

After getting his feet wet in 2015, Darrell Williams came into his own as a sophomore last fall.

Watch video

After getting his feet wet in 2015, Darrell Williams came into his own as a sophomore last fall.

The rising junior Auburn linebacker earned nine starts and appeared in all 13 games, posting 52 tackles to rank sixth among Auburn defenders. He also had five quarterback hurries, three sacks, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.

“Adjusting to that, it really helped me,” Williams said this week. “I guess I had a lot of learning experiences from my freshman year and I feel like I put a lot of things that I worked on into action. Now that I have that under my belt, I feel like I can just keep working on a lot of other things and I can just become evenbetter. Anything (I can) to do to help my team.”

The 6-foot-2, 247-pounder has been playing at Mike and “money” linebacker thus far in Auburn’s spring practices. He is versatile enough to play at all three linebacker spots, as he showed in Auburn’s win over Vanderbilt when Tre’ Williams was injured and Deshaun Davis got ejected for targetingin the first quarter.

“He’s really played well,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said last fall. “He’s getting confidence. He’s flying to the football. He’s been tackling well. He’s one of those young guys that’s really grown up this year and starting to turn into the player that we really expected him to be. I think he’s got potential to even get better.”

Darrell Williams is one of three returning starters for Auburn’s linebacker corps along with Tre’ Williams and Davis. The unit was the defense’s most inexperienced group in 2016 and has now become the most experienced for the upcoming season. Departing senior T.J. Neal is the only scholarship linebacker who isn’t returning, and he primarily served as a backup.

“I feel like we’ve got a good season ahead of us,” Darrell Williams said. “(It’s been) a good spring so far… We’re just building on the great things that we accomplished last year and just want to take that next step. Take everything to another level, you know what I’m saying? That was just one year under Coach T-Will (Travis Williams.) You can see his enthusiasm on being an even better coach than what he was. So we’re all just trying to take the next step.”

Auburn’s LBs hope to ‘lead this team like we’re supposed to’

Darrell Williams, Tre’ Williams and Davis combined for 182 total stops last season. Off the bench, Montavious Atkinson had 30 tackles while Tre Threat (who has since moved to Buck end) had three and Richard McBryde had two.

The Tigers signed a stellar group of linebackers in February, welcoming four-star prospects K.J. Britt and T.D. Moultry and three-star prospect Chandler Wooten. Britt and Wooten are enrolled at Auburn, but Britt has missed spring practice with a leg injury. Wooten, meanwhile, has garnered plenty of praise from his coaches and teammates this spring.

“We of course improved a lot over the years of our defense,” Darrell Williams said. “I mean Coach (Kevin) Steele had a great plan for us… I feel like everybody bought into it and just really trying to do the same thing.”

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AU BLOG MAILBAG: Will Auburn try to fill TJ Lang’s vacated roster spot?

On Thursday, I found enough free time away from my laptop to play my first round of golf in 2017. As you might expect, it was a bit of a mixed bag.

NFL moving to ground Daren Bates, line leapers

NFL team owners will consider adopting a rule that would prohibit players from leaping offensive linemen in an attempt to block a field-goal or extra-point attempt.

NFL team owners will consider adopting a rule that would prohibit players from leaping offensive linemen in an attempt to block a field-goal or extra-point attempt.

The proposal would amend Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (s). Article 1 lists the prohibited acts that result in unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties. Article 1 (s) currently reads: “Running forward and leaping in an obvious attempt to block a field goal or try kick and landing on players, unless the leaping player was originally lined up on the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped.”

The rule proposal would strike the words “and landing on players,” which would make it illegal for defenders to get a running start and leap the snapper, a growing tactic adopted from early practitioners such as Troy Polamalu and former Auburnstandout Daren Bates.

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

Rich McKay, the president of the Atlanta Falcons and the chairman of the NFL Competition Committee, said the rule was proposed for safety reasons.

“I think the issue — we’ve looked at a lot of tape on the jumper — is that how it’s being defensed at this point is whether it’s the snapper or the guard raising up and attempting to make contact with the jumper,” McKay said. “And we’ve seen several examples where the players have been flipped over, land on their head, their neck, and a potential for a serious injury is certainly increased when you have a player in a vulnerable position who’s now going to be knocked off balance and really can’t control the way they land. So I think that’s probably the biggest thing, and we have seen that on tape as to why the proposal will be voted on.”

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president for football operations, said early line leapers had surprise on their side, but the tactic has become widespread enough now that kicking teams are prepared for it.

“We’ve also heard our coaches tell us, you know, they’re now coaching to defend that leaper, which really could create a real safety issue with that defender coming down and now jumping over,” Vincent said. “So the inevitable is going to happen, and just hearing from the players association, Philly now proposing it is really in the best interest of the game.”

The rule change was proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Bates blocked a field goal after leaping the snapper in a 2014 game against the New York Giants, when he was playing with the St. Louis Rams.

He also had a near-miss against the San Francisco 49ers that season when he was ruled to be offside.

During a Thursday conference call to preview the proposed rule changes, McKay was asked about the rule curbing a player’s opportunity to showcase his athletic ability.

“We’re not going to put players in a position in which we think there is an unreasonable risk of injury,” McKay said. “In our case, this was a rule that was proposed by Philadelphia.When we met with the NFLPA, it was a rule that certainly caught their attention, and they favored it right from the outset, given what they felt like was a danger to the player, to the leaper and the risk of injury. The NCAA quickly passed this rule. I don’t know if it’s been confirmed yet, but it’s in the passing stage and they’re doing the same thing. When we see a technique in our game, athletic or non-athletic, that is a danger to the player, we try to as a league respond by a rule limiting that danger.”

Bates will play for the Tennessee Titans in the 2017 season. The linebacker signeda three-year, $6 million contract with the Titans earlier this month as an NFL free agent.

The NFL owners will hold their annual league meeting Sunday through Wednesday in Phoenix. They will consider 15 rule changes, six bylaw changes and three resolutions.

NFL moving to ground Daren Bates, line leapers

NFL team owners will consider adopting a rule that would prohibit players from leaping offensive linemen in an attempt to block a field-goal or extra-point attempt.

Stockbridge (Ga.) duo highlight four key Auburn visitors, including two new offers, leading up to spring scrimmage – SECcountry.com

SECcountry.com
Stockbridge (Ga.) duo highlight four key Auburn visitors, including two new offers, leading up to spring scrimmage
SECcountry.com
Welcome to SEC Country's daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, we look a busy day for unofficial visitors during Auburn spring practice, which resulted in a few new offers.

Auburn football: Squad scrimmage goals, big weekend for Tigers athletics – SECcountry.com

SECcountry.com
Auburn football: Squad scrimmage goals, big weekend for Tigers athletics
SECcountry.com
Welcome to SEC Country's daily War Eagle Wakeup, a rundown of everything happening in Auburn football and Auburn Tigers athletics with Lauren Shute. Today, football focuses on squad goals and Tigers gear up for a busy weekend.

and more

2B-turned-OF Jay Estes hopes to help No. 20 Auburn keep winning streak alive at Georgia

A few days prior the SEC opener against then-No. 5 Florida, Auburn’s coaching staff approached Jay Estes and asked if he would be willing to move to the outfield.

Is Woody Barrett the Next Jalen Hurts?

Ben

If one listens to sports talk radio in the South, being subjected to Alabama football is an everyday occurrence because local radio stations are all Alabama affiliates and/or carriers of the Paul Finebaum show. It was the aforementioned show that caught my ear this time last year. Alabama was going to be breaking in yet another starting quarterback, and the question was, “Who would replace the graduated Jake Coker?” It seemed like every day on the radio show, beat reporters gave the pecking order of the three competitors. Still, it was Jalen Hurts who continued to make the conversation. That was awfully interesting for a true freshman that didn’t, in any way, fit the mold of the other players. 

Just weeks before the Alabama spring game, AL.com reported on the projected depth chart, and quarterbacks were the very first position group referenced. Writers had this to say on the most important position on the team: “With Jake Coker out of eligibility, Alabama again has to break in a new quarterback in 2016. The top two options appear to be Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett. Bateman, a rising junior, should be the early favorite after finishing second to Coker and even starting the Ole Miss game over the fifth-year senior. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin likes Bateman, and the Utah native should be a good fit in his offense. Barnett, who redshirted this year, is the highly-regarded former five-star recruit. Barnett had to put on weight after arriving in Tuscaloosa, but coaches like him, and he’s viewed as the future of the offense. The wild card is David Cornwell, who looked to be a serious contender heading into fall camp, but fell off the pack and finished behind Coker, Bateman and Alec Morris.”

It is certainly interesting to read the thoughts of the writers plugged into the program. Not mentioned was Jalen Hurts, who, as everyone knows, showed out during the spring game when the other competitors were less than impressive. In the weeks that followed, the same conversations continued. Hurts never left his spot as the dark-horse while the others seemed to fall away. Eventually, Hurts was named starter and went on to be the SEC Offensive Player of the year.

Auburn has an interesting situation shaping up in its quarterback race. Most observers believe that the talented former five-star recruit, Jarrett Stidham, will become Auburn’s next starter with oft-injured Sean White being the backup. 

Like Alabama’s Bateman, White has started games. He has been serviceable and even decent for Auburn. While fans admire his fight and desire to be the man at quarterback, most would agree that they have seen the full scope of White’s ability: a player with a limited arm and limited play-making ability player with good command of an oft-hamstrung offense.

Stidham may be likened to Barnett’s measurables and ability and has game film from his time at Baylor. Still, one must cautiously project Big 12 success to the SEC, especially with such a small sample size. 

Then there is Woody Barrett…

Because he is a freshman and hasn’t started a college game, he is automatically dismissed, but he shouldn’t be. It wasn’t so long ago that our own AubTigerman wrote about Barrett as The Forgotten Man and caused some real conversation among our readers. That was before practice began, and not much has changed since. That’s exactly the point.

Not only has a pecking order not been named, but both coach Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey have said that a starter won’t be named in the spring. There are only two people this benefits. One is White, still trying to make a comeback from a broken arm in spite of competing against Stidham and his far better arm and physical ability and Barrett, who has superior game-breaking ability. The other person is Barrett .

It appears the true competition is between Stidham and Barrett. 

Lindsey, himself, is part of the equation. Rhett Lashlee left after a second consecutive lackluster offensive year, and another bad year will likely mean a house cleaning on the offensive side. Lindsey knows that. He also knows what he has with White. Does he want to go that route or trust another?

While Stidham has the arm talent to be an Air Raid quarterback, Auburn’s receivers have been less than spectacular the past few years. If this continues, Stidham could become irrelevant.

Barrett is the closest thing to a Malzahn-preferred dual threat quarterback.  While Auburn’s road-grading run game might factor well into a Stidham-led offense, it is picture perfect for one led by Barrett. Because of that, as long as Barrett remains in the fight while the rest rearrange the deck chairs, he remains a legitimate contender to be the next Jalen Hurts. 

The post Is Woody Barrett the Next Jalen Hurts? appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Where 4-star Pleasant Grove athlete Myles Mason stands in his recruitment

Catching up with Myles Mason

Pleasant Grove’s Myles Masonthought he had his top schools narrowed down to three – Alabama, Auburn and Florida State.

But a recent visit and offer from LSU made him take a step back. Mason, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound four-star athlete who is being recruited at receiver and safety, isn’t in a rush to make a commitment.

Mason now has a top five of Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Clemson and LSU.

He was an Alabama fan growing up, but realizes his college decision is more about business. Alabama and Florida State are recruiting Mason as an athlete, while LSU, Clemson and Auburn like Mason, a starter since his freshman year, in the secondary.

A starter since his freshman year at Pleasant Grove, Mason is undecided on where he wants to play in college, but says he’s leaning toward safety.

“He is very athletic,” Pleasant Grove coach Jim Elgin said. “He runs very well. His agility and ball skills are very good. He has a good football IQ. He gets it. He brings a lot of different things to the table. You’ve got kids who are big and fast who can do certain things. Myles has the ability to do a lot of different things.

“Some of them are definitely looking at him as a defensive back, but he can play receiver and be a slot guy. At times he’s been our running back and at times he’s been our quarterback.”

Mason said he’s spending this spring building relationships with coaches and making visits. He has been to Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and LSU, and will go to Auburn’s spring game on April 8.

LSU is the most recent offer.

“I went up there for a Junior Day,” Mason said. “They looked at my highlight tape and said they were very interested and offered me. I loved their campus, coaches and really loved their DB (defensive back) coach, Coach (Corey) Raymond, and their history with DBs.”

Here’s the low-down on how Mason feels about his other top schools. He’ll also visit Georgia soon, so that could expand his recruitment more.

Alabama: Mason said that departed assistant Mario Cristobal was recruiting him harder before he left for Oregon, but he’s building a relationship with new area recruiter Brent Key. Mason has been to Alabama numerous times and will continue to visit Alabama.

Auburn: Area recruiter Rodney Garner is recruiting Mason pretty hard, he said. “They say they’re really interested in me. They think I’m a good fit for them.”

Florida State: Mason said he felt like home on a trip to FSU. “Their coaches and their food was great. I loved the seafood.”

Clemson: “I liked it. Their football and their campus is top notch. The head coach (Dabo Swinney), I like him. He’s a real down-to-earth guy.”

Mason said all the schools are even. The schools that recruit him as an athlete say they’ll let him make a choice on where he wants to start his career out.

Mason is looking at a summer commitment, but will extend that timeline if he’s not ready to make a decision yet.

“Since I got the offer from LSU, it kind of opened up some things,” Mason said. “(I’m looking for) a place where I can have the biggest impact early on, and a place that can develop me for the next level on and off the field, and a place where I feel at home.”

Mason had 84 tackles last year on defense, and didn’t come off the field much on either side of the ball.

Where 4-star Pleasant Grove athlete Myles Mason stands in his recruitment

Catching up with Myles Mason

At Auburn, ‘everybody’s looking for Marlon to make the play’

Marlon Davidson is facing a new kind of challenge this spring after his impressive freshman campaign

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After becoming the first freshman to start on Auburn’s defensive line in more than 30 years, Marlon Davidson is facing a new kind of challenge this spring.

With Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams off to the NFL Draft, Davidson’s feeling the pressure to step up as Auburn’s next dominant pass rusher.

“It’s tough, man, because everybody sees what you can do,” the 6-foot-3, 284-pounder said on Tuesday. “Everybody’s looking for Marlon to make the play, and you just have to take that like you’re one of the impact players. Just like our coach was telling us today, ‘Become an impact player.’ That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to take on that role. It’s kind of hard, you know, because you don’t know too much about it.”

Lawson and Adams certainly made their presence felt last season. The duocombined for 74 tackles, 13.5 sacks and 39 quarterback hurries last season for the Tigers.

Davidson won a starting job in fall camp and held onto it for all 13 games last season. He finished with 38 tackles, including six for loss and 2.5 sacks with six quarterback hurries and four pass breakups.

Despite his near instant success, Davidson still doesn’t feel like he’s arrived.

“Being out there with great guys and playing football with Montravius and Carl Lawson, first-round draft picks, it never got to me like I’ve made it,” he said. “I want to get where they’re at.”

“You can see we’re missing two big players. We’ve got guys that fit into their spots, and they’re doing a pretty good job at it. As long as they keep building and keep getting better, we’ll have a perfect team next year.”

Davidson and tackle Dontavius Russell are the only returning starters on Auburn’s defensive line, but the Tigers have plenty of depth and experience coming back as well. There are a number of players competing for the other two starting jobs, including tackle Derrick Brown and Buck end Jeff Holland.

Up close and personal with Auburn’s new defensive line

Davidson and Brown were both five-star prospects before they signed with Auburn, but Davidson made it clear they are not ready to be labeled as the next Lawson and Adams.

“As of now, no, because we’re still improving,” he said. “We can’t get there yet. They had four years over us. We only have one in the books. We just try to take it as today and work toward that in the future.”

Davidson prides himself on chasing down opponents from behind and feels he can catch anyone on a football field. That mindset has been fueling him throughout the spring as he looks to be even better in his sophomore campaign.

“I feel like I can run down a leopard,” he said. “I might not do it, but that’s my attitude about it… I have that go-getter attitude. Never stop until I lose breath, and that’s probably never.”

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At Auburn, ‘everybody’s looking for Marlon to make the play’

Marlon Davidson is facing a new kind of challenge this spring after his impressive freshman campaign

What Auburn is asking its sophomore wide receivers to do this spring

Eli Stove is among the candidates to lead a core of sophomore wide receivers that are expected to see a dramatic increase in production

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The speed of the game is what stood out to Eli Stove in his first year of college.

The wide receiver was a bit of jack of all trades as a true freshman, capable of taking the top off the defense on rare deep passes and given the chance to make plays in the open field on jet sweeps.

“To be honest, it was how fast everything was going,” Stove said of what was the biggest adjustment for him last season. “Because in high school, it wasn’t really that fast. We just took it slow in high school. Transitioning slow to fast, playing and getting set quicker, that was kind of hard for me. But I got used to it.”

Stove had 23 receptions for 224 yards and 11 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown last season. He’ll be among the candidates to lead a core of sophomore wide receivers that are expected to see a dramatic increase in production after Auburn’s passing game failed to produce a receiver with 500 yards in 2016.

“I have more leadership, I feel,” Stove said. “I feel like I can step up and have more confidence in the game plan.”

The sophomore group still has questions to answer though, and the rest of spring will be beneficial asDarius Slayton, Auburn’s leading returning receiver, is back after being limited during the first two weeks of practice.Nate Craig-Myers is taking his most meaningful reps to date, due in part to the absence of Kyle Davis, who could miss the rest of spring.

“I think the good thing is they’re a talented group,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “They have experience now. Obviously, they made some mistakes, but all freshmen are going to make some mistakes. They got a year under their belt.

“It’s kind of been as a group, (wide receiver coach Kodi) Burns has just challenged them to raise their level as a group. We need to take that next step and make some plays outside the original-type offense.”

Junior Ryan Davis feels the receivers are progressing gradually this spring.

“Each day we have a focus on — coach Burns, he gives us a task at hand, and then we try to focus on that one task each day and try to accomplish it every day,” Ryan Davis said. “That’s how we know we’re progressing or not. Right now, I feel like we’re progressing and everyone’s coming along, just as we would think.”

The largely unproven group is making these strides while undergoing a change in offensive coordinators and integration of two new quarterbacks in Jarrett Stidham and Malik Willis and the increased presence of Woody Barrett compared to his time on scout team.

“They’re playing extremely hard right now,” Malzahn said. “They’ve got a good attitude. We’re rotating a lot of quarterbacks too, but we like their attitude and they’ve got a chance to be a good group.”

What Auburn is asking its sophomore wide receivers to do this spring

Eli Stove is among the candidates to lead a core of sophomore wide receivers that are expected to see a dramatic increase in production

Six Auburn gymnasts earn All-SEC honors

Six student-athletes on the No. 21 Auburn gymnastics team earned All-SEC recognition, the league announced Thursday. That set a new program-best total for the Tigers and was the most by any SEC school this year.

Where Auburn prospects are projected to land in the NFL Draft – 247Sports

247Sports
Where Auburn prospects are projected to land in the NFL Draft
247Sports
From April 27-29 of this year, at least three former Auburn players' lives are expected to change forever when they're welcomed into the fraternity that is professional football. As the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia approaches, more and more mock …
Auburn Football: Joshua Holsey flying under the radar in NFL DraftFly War Eagle

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2017 War Blogle Bracket Challenge Standings (before Sweet Sixteen)

For the first 3.5 days of the 2017 War Blogle Bracket Challenge, I sat and watched in amazement. My pseudo-upsets were actually happening. I was looking smart. I was winning the dang thing. And then Duke, my champion, lost. So yeah, I might be amongst the top few now, but it won’t last.

Here are the current standings before we get into the Sweet 16 for the non-money bracket. If you don’t see your name, click here to see where you fall.

And if you were one of the few that felt confident enough to put some hard-earned cash on the line, you can find your name here. I was legit winning both of these until South Carolina ruined my hopes and dreams. I’m sure nobody would’ve complained if I had won my own bracket challenges.


Auburn football adds 3rd nonconference opponent to 2019 schedule

Auburn is one game away from filling out its 2019 nonconference slate.

Auburn mid-spring practice report: Updates on personnel

As Auburn reaches the midpoint of spring practice, we take a look at some of the recent personnel changes that will impact the Tigers.

Auburn mid-spring practice report: Updates on personnel

As Auburn reaches the midpoint of spring practice, we take a look at some of the recent personnel changes that will impact the Tigers.

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As Auburn reaches the midpoint of spring practice, we take a look at some of the recent personnel changes that will impact the Tigers.

There’s been movement at quarterback, where John Franklin III and Tyler Queen are no longer in the mix but Jarrett Stidham and Sean White remain.

Receiver has seen some changes with the addition of Franklin, the absence of Kyle Davis and the return of Darius Slayton.

Auburn searching for spring improvement from young wide receiver group

Nate Craig-Myers came to Auburn as the No. 6 wide receiver in the 2016 recruiting class. He finished his freshman season with four catches, 70 yards, one touchdown and two games missed due to injury.

Charles Barkley talks Auburn inferiority, Nick Saban, LaVar Ball and killing Skip Bayless

Former NBA great also talks about his involvement in Larry Bird-Dr. J brawl and how he was wrongfully fined.

Charles Barkley talks Auburn inferiority, Nick Saban, LaVar Ball and killing Skip Bayless

Former NBA great also talks about his involvement in Larry Bird-Dr. J brawl and how he was wrongfully fined.

Charles Barkley was allover place Thursday when he sat down with Dan Patrick on “The DanPatrick Show.”

No matterwhat direction he took the conversation, though, the destination always found humor.

The NBA analyst, who is also working the NCAA Tournament as it heads to the Sweet 16, covered a number of issues, including Auburn’s inferiority complex as it relate to Alabama, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, LaVar Ball and killing Skip Bayless.

On Auburn:

“We have aninferiority complex because the greatest football coach in history is over in Tuscaloosa,” Barkley told The DanPatrick Show. “I think Nick Saban is thegreatest college football coach in history over there in Tuscaloosa.

“But Auburn is the greatest school. Once you go there, you are a part of a family, a fraternity. Even when I got back now, it’s the most amazing thing. When I travel around the country, the world, we say ‘War Eagles.’ It is pretty special.

“War Eagle is like I love you.”

On LaVar Ball:

The father of UCLA’s Lonzo Ball has said in his prime he could beat Michael Jordan. That prompted Barkley to throw down a challenge, which Ball responded to.

“He better stay behind at TNT and eat those donuts,” Ballsaid.

On Thursday, Barkley said the conversation should be about the kid, not the dad.

“The dad won’t let his son enjoy his glory,” Barkley said. “I think his kid is terrific. Mr. Ball is harmless. If he had a Charles Barkley mentality, maybe he would averaged 10 points a game at Washington State than that whole two.

“I wish he’d let his son enjoy this ride. He’s only going to be in college one year. We should be talking about his son.”

The Larry Bird-Dr. J fight:

On Nov. 9, 1984, the Boston Celtics (4-0) hosted the Philadelphia 76ers (5-0) at the Boston Garden.

However, the showdown will forever be remembered for the fight that broke out late in the third quarter between Larry Bird and Julius Erving.

As the video above shows, Dr. J got some punches in on a restrained Bird. Both players ended up being ejected from the game. Dr. J finished six points, while Bird had 42 points in the 130-119 Boston win.

The fight resulted $30,500 in fines, according toNBA.com. Dr. J and Bird got hit for $7,500.

So did Barkley.

“I’m still mad at the NBA for fining me,” Barkley said. They said I was holding Larry Bird so Dr. J could hit him. I was trying to break the fight up. I thought someone had Doc. I didn’t know Doc was punching Bird while I was holding him.”

Check it out below at the 1:25 mark.

For the record, Barkley said he has probably be fined about $300,000 by the NBA over the years.

Killing Skip Bayless

Finally, Barkley congratulated Patrick for all his success and for being a good guy. He had one more idea.

“You know what we should do for ratings?” Barkley asked. “I see you have all these TVs. If I get a disease and I’m going to die how about I get Skip Bayless in here and I kill him on national television?

“I just want to get Skip Bayless in a room and beat him like a dog.

Check out the full interview below.

Auburn adds Samford to 2019 football schedule – FBSchedules.com

FBSchedules.com
Auburn adds Samford to 2019 football schedule
FBSchedules.com
The Auburn Tigers have added the Samford Bulldogs to their 2019 football schedule, the school announced on Thursday. Auburn will host Samford at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Nov. 23, 2019. The game will be one week prior to Auburn hosting the “Iron Bowl”…
Auburn Tigers schedule in-state opponent Samford for November 2019 gameGridiron Now

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What Auburn plans to work on during its seventh spring practice

Auburn is nearing the midpoint of spring practice, with Thursday afternoon's practice serving as the last before the first scrimmage on Saturday.

Auburn is nearing the midpoint of spring practice, with Thursday afternoon’s practice serving as the last before the first scrimmage on Saturday.

The focus of Thursday’s practice, the seventh for Auburn this spring, will be similar to during the season.

“It’ll be red zone orientated,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. “That’ll allow us to have everything, for the most part, situational things, put in for our scrimmage on Saturday.”

Auburn typically focuses on third down and red zone in Thursday practices during the regular season.

Malzahn was pleased with the team’s effort during Tuesday’s practice following an 11-day hiatus for spring break.

“We just have to get back into the flow as a team,” sophomore defensive end Marlon Davidson said, “and just really get back into it and just come back Thursday with a better day.”

Offensively, Auburn has added to its passing repertoireandthe quarterback room got a bit less crowded this week.

Defensively, there’sa big difference from a year ago with a returning coordinator and all but one member of the staff.

“Spring is going good,” Davidson said. “I still have to clean up some fundamentals and things we’re going to fix Thursday when we get back on the field and just take coaching better. Everybody just get together and come as one unit like we did last year.”

What Auburn plans to work on during its seventh spring practice

Auburn is nearing the midpoint of spring practice, with Thursday afternoon’s practice serving as the last before the first scrimmage on Saturday.

Auburn schedules 2019 nonconference game with in-state opponent

Auburn and Samford will meet in 2019 for the first time since 2014.

Auburn added a third game to its nonconference schedule for 2019.

The Tigers will host in-state opponent Samford on Nov. 23, 2019, Samford head coach Chris Hatcher announced on Thursday. The game will mark the 29th meeting all-time between the two programs and the first meeting since 2014.

Auburn’s nonconference schedule for 2019 now includes games against Oregon on Aug. 31 in Arlington, Texas,for the season opener,at home against Tulane on Sept. 7and then against Samford on Nov. 23.

The meeting with Samford will be the third time the two programs have played since 2011, with the other two matchups coming while former Auburn Heisman-winning quarterback Pat Sullivan was the Bulldogs’ head coach. Auburn won both of those meetings, including a 31-7 win at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2014.

Auburn leads the all-time series, 27-0-1.

With three nonconference opponents scheduled for 2019, the Tigers have one more open spot on their schedule for an out-of-conference game that season.

Here’s a complete list of Auburn’s nonconference opponents through 2024:

2017

— Sept. 2 vs. Georgia Southern

— Sept. 9 at Clemson

— Sept. 16 vs. Mercer

— Nov. 18 vs. ULM

2018

— Sept. 1 vs. Washington (in Atlanta)

— Sept. 29 vs. Southern Miss

— Nov. 17 vs. Alabama State

2019

— Aug. 31 vs. Oregon (Arlington, Texas)

— Sept. 7 vs. Tulane

— Nov. 23 vs. Samford

2020

— Sept. 26 vs. Southern Miss

— Nov. 21 vs. Alabama A&M

2021

— Sept. 18 at Penn State

— Sept. 25 vs. Georgia State

— Nov. 20 vs. Alabama State

2022

— Sept. 17 vs. Penn State

— Sept. 24 vs. Western Kentucky

2023

— Sept. 9 at California

2024

— Sept. 7 vs. California

Auburn schedules 2019 nonconference game with in-state opponent

Auburn and Samford will meet in 2019 for the first time since 2014.

No. 1 Auburn equestrian peaking at the right time entering SEC Championship

Greg Williams will never forget the first time Auburn hosted the SEC Equestrian Championships.

What’s ‘different’ about Auburn’s Byron Cowart this spring? ‘He’s got that swag about him now’

Former five-star prospect Byron Cowart has moved to defensive tackle this spring after two underwhelming seasons at defensive end.

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A new spring has brought a new position for former five-star prospect Byron Cowart. That change has also brought on a new and, apparently, improved Byron Cowart.

Let’s call him Byron Cowart 2.0.

“A different Byron; that’s all I can say,” defensive end Marlon Davidson said. “He’s a different Byron. Byron has come a long way, and every day, he’s taken a step forward…. He’s got that swag about him now. He’s looking great.”

Cowart made the move to defensive tackle this spring following two seasons of playing mostly defensive end for Auburn. While Auburn’s official roster still lists him at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said the former blue chip recruit is looking “a little bit thicker” this spring as he acclimates himself to the interior of the defensive line.

Auburn’s hope is that adding some weight to Cowart and moving him inside will give the Tigers more depth at the position behind Dontavius Russell and Derrick Brown, and result in more production from Cowart, who at times disappointed during his first two seasons on the Plains.

Byron Cowart changing positions on Auburn’s defensive line

“He can do it,” linebacker Darrell Williams said. “He just got bigger. About 280, if not more. So, he’s getting a lot bigger and a lot stronger and I feel like he can do it, definitely.”

In each of his first two seasons, Cowart recorded six total tackles, giving him 12 for his career — with just one behind the line of scrimmage — in 22 games as a reserve. He added six quarterback hurries and a forced fumble, but has not panned out as many expected after signing with Auburnas the No. 1 defensive end in the nation and No. 3 overall prospect in 2015, according to 247Sports composite rankings.

Cowart at times got down on himself, despite his best efforts not to. He looked to cautionary tales of players who failed to live up to expectations, like former NFL No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell, hoping to learn from those stories and avoid the same fate.

“There’s a point where every player has got down on themselves,” Davidson said. “I even got down on myself. But it’s just about how you respond the play, the next day, the next practice and just taking advantage of it.”

Then came last year’s blowout win against Arkansas, when Cowart recorded his first career tackle for a loss in what he said was the best performance of his career, andone he was waiting on for “a long time.”

Cowart hoped to turn that confidence-boosting performance into more consistent production on the field. However, he failed to record a tackle in his next three games before missing the final three games of the year following an emergency appendectomy.

After recovering from the surgery, Cowart began the transition to tackle, where he has spent most of his time this spring. While the move isn’t a drastic one, there are still subtleties that Cowart has had to pick up on.

“It’s a transition, you know?” Davidson said. “How to take on blocks, how to do this, learning plays. Just different things, man. It’s nothing that no player just can’t achieve.”

It’s a move that Cowart has embraced so far. Davidson, for one, has noticed that new “swag” the defensive lineman carries himself with, noting that he’s more vocal in pushing his teammates this spring.

Once Cowart fully settles into his new role, the Tigers hope he can not only provide depth at the position but also mismatches on the inside — and, perhaps, finally achieve the breakout season many have expected from him since his arrival at Auburn.

“I feel like the move he made is a good move for his career, you know?” Williams said. “Moving from end to tackle, that’s going to cause a lot of mismatches in the inside. So, I feel like a lot of that playing with more swag and stuff has come from him feeling a little better, you know what I’m saying? As far as like playing on the field and action, I feel like that’s where he’s coming from. He feels good while he’s playing.”

What’s ‘different’ about Auburn’s Byron Cowart this spring? ‘He’s got that swag about him now’

Former five-star prospect Byron Cowart has moved to defensive tackle this spring after two underwhelming seasons at defensive end.

Back at Work!

Spring resumes

Spring practice resumes, and the future becomes less murky.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s been quite the week at Auburn. While the football team took a break, Auburn proceeded to take care of some top opponents in both baseball and softball. I marvel at it all. It seems that for much of the past decade, we had two stick-ball teams that could hardly make the post season. Both teams now are a big source of Auburn pride!

     This week, the football team gets back to work. It’s hard to believe that A-Day is only a couple of weeks away. I expect that there’s a lot for the coaches and players to get done, before showing off on that spring Saturday.

     I have to say that I’m glad to see Auburn’s quarterback picture get a little less murky, this spring. When Auburn has struggled the past couple of seasons, it has largely been because the team had quarterback issues. During the break, a couple of things crystallized. Tyler Queen is transferring out, and John Franklin III is moving to wide receiver. I think those are good moves for both players. We got a bit of a look at Queen in the second half of the 2015 A-Day game. He’s got a live arm and good running ability. He needs to be playing somewhere, not sitting on the bench. Franklin has NFL-worthy speed, and he needs to see the field as well, this year.

     The coaches are not going to name a starting quarterback this spring, as we know. However, from all accounts, Jarrett Stidham is the guy to beat. Still, I think the coaches have to give junior Sean White a look this fall when he is healed from the broken arm suffered in the Sugar Bowl. When White was healthy last fall, the offense was absolutely blowing SEC defenses up. I don’t think it is a bad thing at all, to have more than one good quarterback ready to go. One of the big issues the past couple of seasons was when the coaches had to change quarterbacks due to injury, they’d put the next guy in there with proverbial handcuffs on. Opposing defensive coordinators feasted on that.

     If a quarterback is going to shine, guys have to step up around him. The line has to protect the quarterback, and his receivers have to get open and catch the ball. We won’t get to see too much of a wide-open offense on A-Day. However, one does get a good chance in the spring game to evaluate whether the line can keep the quarterback upright under a 4 man rush, and whether guys can perform at the receiver spots. Also, quarterback accuracy is also on display. Several times in the past decade, I watched Auburn spring quarterbacks bounce-pass easy throws or sail them over the receivers’ heads. Invariably the following fall, the team struggled mightily on offense.

     I was thinking going into this spring that Auburn had to find a set offensive line quickly, and get the new guys settled in. However, I keep hearing great things about a number of players. We know what Austin Golson, Braden Smith and Darius James can do, as all started last season. We are hearing good reviews on Mike Horton, Prince Tega Wanogho, Prince Michael Sammons, and others. It’s going to be hard to narrow down the candidates to just 5 starters, it seems. That’s not really a bad problem to have!

     Defensively, I think Auburn has a chance to be really good, again this season. There is depth at all three levels, and a lot of experienced players return. Last season, the team did a great job of forcing plays to the sideline, and making tackles for little or no gain. I expect a similarly powerful result, this season.

     Auburn’s special teams have been a strength for several years, and I figure that will continue this year. Punter Kevin Phillips has to be replaced, as does sure-handed punt returner Marcus Davis. However, Auburn has the players to do that. The Tigers have a chance to be really explosive in the return game, but whomever ends up returning balls will have to prove that the ball is secure, no matter what. Of course, the Tiger place-kicking game is in great shape, with Daniel Carlson returning for his senior campaign.

The post Back at Work! appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Avery Young gets new NFL team

Former Auburn offensive tackle Avery Young will get an NFL opportunity with his home-state Miami Dolphins. Young signed with Miami on Wednesday.

Former Auburnoffensive tackle Avery Youngwill get an NFL opportunity with his home-state Miami Dolphins. Young signed with Miami on Wednesday.

Young spent the 2016 season with the New Orleans Saints, but never got to play because he was on the reserve/non-football injury list for the entire campaign. The Saints released Youngon Feb. 27.

Young saw action at three spots in the Auburn line and started 36 of the 37 games that he played for the Tigers. But he was not selected in the 2016 NFL Draft and signed with the Saints in May.

When the Saints’ rookies reported for training camp in July,Young was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list. The designation indicated that Young had an injury not connected to his time with New Orleans. The nature of Young’s injury was never disclosed by the Saints or by Young.

Although Young spent the entire season on NFI, he practiced briefly with the team in November.

Young is from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, up the coast from Miami.

He would appear to be competing to provide depth in the Dolphins’ offensive line.

Miami returns four of its five starting linemen from the 2016 season. Left offensive tackle Branden Albert was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Dolphins plan to shift 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil into that position.

The former Ole Miss star spent his rookie season playing left guard for Miami. The Dolphins signed Ted Larsen away from the Chicago Bears in free agency to step in at left guard.

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

Avery Young gets new NFL team

Former Auburn offensive tackle Avery Young will get an NFL opportunity with his home-state Miami Dolphins. Young signed with Miami on Wednesday.

‘Real football’ awaits Auburn in Saturday’s first scrimmage – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
'Real football' awaits Auburn in Saturday's first scrimmage
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
Auburn will hold its first spring scrimmage – “real football” as Gus Malzahn calls it – Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. “A lot of times guys react differently in those situations,” Malzahn said. “It's just more a big picture standpoint, being the …
What to watch for when Auburn football resumes spring practice this weekSECcountry.com
Gus Malzahn: 'No one has arrived'247Sports
Baseball: Georgia Tech's Late Rally Comes Up Short vs #16 Auburn in a 7-4 LossFrom The Rumble Seat
Georgia Tech Official Athletic Site-Gridiron Now
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Auburn adds ‘a lot of passing plays’ under Chip Lindsey

The “bells and whistles” Chip Lindsey is adding to Auburn’s offense includes an expanded passing game.

Auburn adds ‘a lot of passing plays’ under Chip Lindsey

The “bells and whistles” Chip Lindsey is adding to Auburn's offense includes an expanded passing game.

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The “bells and whistles” Chip Lindsey is adding to Auburn’s offense includes an expanded passing game.

The change is not unexpected, as Auburn’s new offensive coordinator has hadmore productive passing attacks than the Tigers over the course of his college coaching career.

Through six spring practices, Lindsey’s impact on the playbook has been noticeable to at least one wide receiver.

“We’ve put in a lot of passing plays,” sophomore wide receiver Eli Stove said. “We’re going to be throwing it around a lot.”

With Auburn coming off a 2016 season in which it ranked 112th nationally with 169.5 passing yards per game, there’s virtually no place to go but up. Add Lindsey’s offensive tweaks and Jarrett Stidham to the quarterback picture and there’s changes coming the aerial attack.

“He likes to air it out, so that will be pretty good for us, our receivers,” Stove said. “And we added on John Franklin (to the receivers), so we’ll be pretty good this year.”

How Chip Lindsey is changing Auburn’s offense this spring

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday’s practice, Auburn’s sixth of the spring, was “mostly review” and not installing more of the offense and defense.

Even with a trimmed quarterback field, Malzahn said the coaches are not “throwing a whole bunch of plays” at the signal callers beyond the base offense. None of the quarterbacks have spoken publicly this spring.

Earlier in the spring, Malzahn said Lindsey would “add some bells and whistles and some flair” to the offense and while the tweaks to the passing game were a given, the core identity and philosophy is not altering much thus far.

“We still have the same philosophy tempo-wise — full-speed,” junior wide receiver Ryan Davis said. “It’s pretty much the same thing; nothing too much has changed.”

Auburn DE Marlon Davidson trying to make transition from freshman starter to sophomore playmaker

Most sophomores go into their second year in a program looking to increase the roles they had in their debut seasons. To make the transition from redshirt or reserve to contributor or starter.

Auburn’s Paul James III, Nick Coe ‘actually balling’ despite not being 100 percent

Auburn defensive ends Paul James III and Nick Coe have been hindered due to injuries this spring.

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While many will look at Auburn’s Buck defensive end position this spring and see a void left to be filled following the departure of Carl Lawson, rising sophomore Marlon Davidson’s sees inspiration.

Auburn has turned to a quartet of players to replace Lawson’s production at the position this spring, and while Jeff Holland is expected to top the depth chart, it’s Nick Coe and Paul James III who have inspired Davidson through the first six practice of spring — and not just because of the skillset either brings to the pass-rushing position.

“I see Paul, man, he’s coming off a knee injury, and he’s fighting,” Davidson said. “That makes me want to fight. That makes me want to be beside him when he’s down. Nick Coe, with all the things that have been happening to him, just coming in behind him and playing like we never lost a beat. Just having fun.”

After transferring from Copiah-Lincoln Community College last year, James missed most of the 2016 season after sustaining a “freak” right kneeinjury before the LSU game on Sept. 24.

In his three appearances last season, James totaled three tackles, including two against Texas A&M. Auburn has been cautious with him since the start of spring as he comes off the knee injury.

Coe, meanwhile, redshirted in 2016 after his arrival at Auburn was delayed until the end of summer after he had to retake an online courseto become academically eligible. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound former North Carolina state wrestling champion impressed teammates during Sugar Bowl practices and looked to parlay that into a breakthrough spring, but he has been hindered by an undisclosed lower-body injury that has limited himthrough the first six practices.

Why Auburn believes Coe will be a ‘special player’

Both James and Coe returned to practice on March 9, the Thursday before spring break, and were in action on Tuesday when the team reconvened.

“I’m not going to say that either are 100 percent but they are out there and they’re improving,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.

Although they aren’t at 100 percent, they have still flashed their potential so far this spring.

“Impressive, man,” Davidson said. “They’re actually balling.”

Of Auburn’s four options at the Buck position, Coe and James are larger than the other two, Holland and sophomore Tre’ Threat. Coe checks in at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, while James is listed at 6-foot-4, 271 pounds. Holland is 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, and Threat is listed at 6-foot-1 and 243 pounds.

While Coe and James are on the heavier side of the spectrum for the position — Lawson played at 253 pounds last season — defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said the additional weight could be beneficial to their success on the field come fall.

“Well you know there’s a reason that they fight featherweight and heavyweight,” Steele said. “There’s a difference in what takes place in that. Those guys in the SEC are big guys over there. So, if it’s good body mass, it helps, particularly when you can move like those guys can in space.”

Auburn’s Paul James III, Nick Coe ‘actually balling’ despite not being 100 percent

Auburn defensive ends Paul James III and Nick Coe have been hindered due to injuries this spring.

Guard TJ Lang announces transfer from Auburn, will ‘finish college career elsewhere’

Rising senior guard TJ Lang announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he will be transferring from the Auburn men’s basketball program after three seasons.

Mobile defensive end Andres Fox starting to narrow recruitment down

Andres Fox talks recruiting at the New Orleans Opening regional

Mobile defensive end Andres Fox starting to narrow recruitment down

Andres Fox talks recruiting at the New Orleans Opening regional

One of the hottest prospects in the nation this spring has been Mobile Christian defensive end Andres Fox, as major offers are piling up, one after the other.

Auburn offered last fall. Alabama has offered this spring. Schools as far away as USC and Oregon have also offered the 6-foot-4, 232-pound Fox, who helped lead Mobile Christian to the Class 3A state championship last fall.

He said on Sunday at the New Orleans Opening Regional that it’s been overwhelming, and his recent narrowing to six schools – Alabama, Auburn, Florida, USC, Florida State and Georgia – can help ease that.

Fox, a three-star recruit on the 247Sports composite, earned Final 5 defensive lineman honors at the regional.

Schools like Fox based on his potential and how quick he is off the ball. Here’s what he said about his top six on Sunday.

Alabama – “They tell me that that’s where all the great players go and if you want to be great, go here. It’s stable and Nick Saban isn’t going anywhere.”

Auburn – “I really like (assistant) Rodney Garner and their defense is really good. I think they’re going to have a great season this year.”

Alabama likes Fox at outside linebacker, but thinks he can also grow into a defensive end. Auburn likes Fox at the BUCK/defensive end position.

Florida State – “I like Jimbo Fisher. It’s stable and he’s not going anywhere.”

Georgia – “I like (assistant) Coach (Kevin) Sherrer. He sends a lot of outside linebackers to the league.”

USC – “I just built up a great relationship with (assistant) Coach (Kenechi) Udeze.”

Florida – “I went to the camp and I really liked how (assistant) Coach (Chris) Rumph was coaching.”

Fox said stability was a big thing he’s looking for. He isn’t sure when he’ll make a commitment, but added that it could come before the season.

More from The Opening New Orleans Regional

Saraland QB Jack West earns Elite 11 invite, plus other notes

Why elite WR Terrace Marshall isn’t considering Alabama any more

Why Auburn target Timaje Porter pushed back commitment date

WR Jacob Copeland has strong bond with Auburn assistant

Auburn in mix for Louisiana lineman Cameron Wire

OL Jerome Carvin talks Alabama, Auburn offers

Alabama trying to flip LSU elite cornerback commit Kelvin Joseph

Nick Saban likes elite athlete Joshua Moore on both sides of the ball

Check out Fox’s film

.@AndresLFox9 in action on DL 1 on 1 with OL earlier pic.twitter.com/R5NhS5Z4Kt

— Drew Champlin (@DrewChamplin) March 20, 2017

Difference in Auburn’s defense ‘night and day’ from last spring

Auburn’s defense is benefiting from the return of defensive coordinator Kevin Steele for the second straight year.

Difference in Auburn’s defense ‘night and day’ from last spring

Auburn's defense is benefiting from the return of defensive coordinator Kevin Steele for the second straight year.

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Through six spring practices, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn can detect a noticeable difference in the Tigers’ defense from this time last year.

He can see it in the group’s actions, in its play on the field and in the way the players have carried themselves this spring.

“From last year this time to now, it’s night and day,” Malzahn said. “Just from a standpoint they know, they know who they are. They know who they are, they know how coach (Kevin) Steele, his expectations, his staff’s expectations and it’s just a confidence. They’re off to a good start.”

That good start is due, primarily, to the fact that the defense hasn’t had to hit the reset button in the spring for the first time since 2014. Auburn returns its defensive coordinator — and the majority of its assistant coaches on that side of the ball — for the first time since Ellis Johnson was entering his second season in 2014.

The result: No drastic changes for the players. No having to learn a new scheme. No having to adjust to new coaches and what they expect of players in every facet of the game.

“Man, it’s really, really different,” linebacker Deshaun Davis said. “When you come in this spring you don’t have to learn new terminology and new plays and get the vibe for a new coach. It’s really about time we’ve had the same defensive coordinator.”

It has made for a much more productive, and comfortable, spring as the Tigers try to build off last year’s defense, which improved almost across the board in Steele’s first year. While last year laid the foundation for Auburn’s defense, however, the Tigers have made it clear that they are leaving 2016 behind them and starting fresh — just with a healthy amount of experience returning and minimal changes to the defensive scheme.

In Year 2, Kevin Steele trying to build Auburn’s defense ‘as if it hadn’t existed’

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know what I’m saying,” linebacker Darrell Williams said. “We of course improved a lot over the years of our defense. I mean Coach Steele had a great plan for us. Really the biggest thing is once you have a plan, everybody buys into it. And I feel like everybody bought into it and just really trying to do the same thing. It was about a year ago he told us, he like laid everything on the table when he first came in, first introduced himself. It was about that same time.

“Getting all the younger guys that just came in and the guys who played scout team or redshirted last year — getting all those guys to buy into the same plan and just build on what we already accomplished.”

While Auburn’s defense is benefitting from having Steele back for a second year and keeping the same scheme, Steele said earlier this spring that he’s approaching this spring just like he did last year’s — as if he’s building the defense from scratch again.

That’s not an indictment of Auburn’s returning defense, by any means. Steele just wants to make sure every player — both veterans and newcomers, impact players and scout team members alike — are on the same page and up to the standard he and the rest of the staff expect of them. The difference this time is that many of those players already understand the expectations and are looking to build upon last year’s success.

“Everyone is really comfortable and by the older guys already knowing what the guys expect, we said it last year that we’re just trying to stack on top of things,” Davis said. “Last year’s defense was last year’s defense, and we’ve already made that clear. That house has already been built and sold, as Coach Steele would say. What we’re trying to do now is built our own legacy for the 2017 defense.”

AL.com All-Access: 5 random spring practice thoughts, observations, questions

Join us for All-Access at 10 p.m. CT

AL.com All-Access: 5 random spring practice thoughts, observations, questions

Join us for All-Access at 10 p.m. CT

Auburn, UAB and South Alabama have been going for a few weeks. Alabama and Troy just started.

Alabama Football  2017 Spring Practice 01Alabama coach Nick Saban works with his players during Alabama’s first spring football practice, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Vasha Hunt/vhunt@al.comVASHA HUNT

So, what to make of spring football practice so far? A few random observations and questions before we get into All-Access at 10 a.m. CT

* UAB fans are optimistic, rightfully so after seeing what head coach Bill Clark did with the 2014 team, but there are no “easy wins.” There are also some positional question marks, especially if a linebacker is getting moved to running back midway through the spring.

* Auburn receiver Kyle Davis is a legit talent, but has been away from the team for personal reasons. Here’s hoping the rising sophomore can get it together before the season.

* Good for Troy to get its younger QBs plenty of work this spring, but not as good for its veteran starter to miss spring with a hand injury.

* South Alabama seems to have a deep defensive line,but is there at tight end on the roster who can do what future NFL Draft pick (and I think future star) Gerald Everett can do?

* Nick Saban took a question about ball control, said a four-letter naughty word that rhymes with “quit” and went off about recruiting and summer camps.As a guy who covers recruiting and enjoys seeing how the most recent class can fit in as freshmen, I guess I’m just wondering what position Chadarius Townsend finds the most success at – running back, receiver or defensive back?

See you guys at 10 a.m. CT

Auburn football: Besties in the backfield; baseball keeps winning – SECcountry.com

SECcountry.com
Auburn football: Besties in the backfield; baseball keeps winning
SECcountry.com
Welcome to SEC Country's daily War Eagle Wakeup, a rundown of everything happening in Auburn football and Auburn Tigers athletics with Lauren Shute. Today, we discuss the Tigers' running back duo and a baseball win in Atlanta.

Auburn football: Besties in the backfield; baseball keeps winning – SECcountry.com

SECcountry.com
Auburn football: Besties in the backfield; baseball keeps winning
SECcountry.com
Welcome to SEC Country's daily War Eagle Wakeup, a rundown of everything happening in Auburn football and Auburn Tigers athletics with Lauren Shute. Today, we discuss the Tigers' running back duo and a baseball win in Atlanta.

Auburn football: Besties in the backfield; baseball keeps winning – SECcountry.com

SECcountry.com
Auburn football: Besties in the backfield; baseball keeps winning
SECcountry.com
Welcome to SEC Country's daily War Eagle Wakeup, a rundown of everything happening in Auburn football and Auburn Tigers athletics with Lauren Shute. Today, we discuss the Tigers' running back duo and a baseball win in Atlanta.

Auburn’s John Franklin III to work primarily at wide receiver the rest of the spring

The transition took six practices to complete.

Tennessee OL Jerome Carvin talks Alabama, Auburn offers

Carvin is a three-star recruit

Alabama and Auburn are pursuing interior linemen in this recruiting class, and both like what they see in Cordova, Tenn., standout Jerome Carvin.

Carvin, who measured in at 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds on Sunday at the New Orleans Opening Regional, said he has good relationships with Alabama offensive line coach Brent Key and Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand.

Both schools have offered Carvin, a three-star recruit in the 247Sports composite.

“They like how I move,” Carvin said. “They say I can really move being as big as I am and I’m relentless.”

Alabama offered Carvin before a recent Junior Day.

“That was a big offer for me,” Carvin said. I’ve been talking to them since tenth grade and I’ve been there about four times. I know almost everything about Alabama.”

He’ll make his first trip to Auburn on April 8 for the spring game. He plans to visit Alabama again sometime in April, either before or during the spring game on April 22.

Other schools in the mix include Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, Missouri and Memphis.

Carvin said Alabama’s facilties, weight room and tradition stand out. He said he talks to Hand every day on the Auburn side, and knows former Auburn offensive tackle Shon Coleman.

He is being recruited as a guard by both schools.

When asked what he’s most looking for, Carvin said, “Academics first. My development as a player on the offensive line. Weight room, having a good strength and conditioning program and the team as a whole. I don’t have to play right away, but I want to get developed and I want to be ready.”

He described his relentless motor as something he can bring to a team, along with positive attitude and effort.

Carvin said he wants to make his commitment before his senior season at Cordova High School.

More from The Opening New Orleans Regional

Saraland QB Jack West earns Elite 11 invite, plus other notes

Why elite WR Terrace Marshall isn’t considering Alabama any more

Why Auburn target Timaje Porter pushed back commitment date

WR Jacob Copeland has strong bond with Auburn assistant

Auburn in mix for Louisiana lineman Cameron Wire

Alabama trying to flip LSU elite cornerback commit Kelvin Joseph

Nick Saban likes elite athlete Joshua Moore on both sides of the ball

Check out Carvin’s film.

Tennessee OL Jerome Carvin talks Alabama, Auburn offers

Carvin is a three-star recruit

Auburn Wins Eight Straight

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Ever since I wrote about my concerns regarding midweek baseball games, Auburn has begun to ease those worries. The Tigers went on the road on Tuesday night to face an always dangerous Georgia Tech team, and came out on top, 7-4.

Tuesday night’s victory marked Auburn’s eighth consecutive win coming off of its weekend sweep against Florida. The Tigers put 11 hits on the board in last night’s game, six of which were doubles.

Christian Camacho was on the mound for the Tigers, as he allowed just one run in 4 1/3 innings. Calvin Coker was credited for the win after getting the last two outs in the fifth inning, and Cole Lipscomb earned his fourth save of the year with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. 

Auburn is fortunate to have only allowed four runs, as the Yellow Jackets hit three home runs in the game. 

“This was probably the best offensive club we have faced thus far,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “You never felt like any lead was safe.”

Jonah Todd, Daniel Robert, Conor Davis and Will Holland led Auburn in the hits column with two for each. No home runs for the Tigers last night, but they weren’t needed, as the six doubles of the evening — a season high — were enough to get the win.

Auburn heads to Athens this weekend to take on a Georgia team that was swept against LSU last weekend. It’s important for the Tigers to further strengthen their SEC record with a very winnable series on hand this weekend.

The post Auburn Wins Eight Straight appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

What Gus Malzahn said about departing Auburn quarterback Tyler Queen

Queen intends to play elsewhere

Just hours before Auburn returned to the football field fromspring break Tuesday, the Tigers lost a quarterback.

Redshirt sophomore Tyler Queen took to social media to announce he intends to transfer from Auburn and play elsewhere.

Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn commented on Queen’s departure when practice was over:

Auburn quarterback announces transfer

“TylerQueenhas asked for his release,” Malzahn said. “We granted that. We wish him nothing but the best; he’s a fine young man. Really in fairness to him, he’s been banged up and not been healthy a whole lot since he’s been here but he’s a fine young man and has a great family and we wish him nothing but the best.”

“I think he had the elbow injury coming out of high school kind of set him back just a little bit, had a shoulder two but he’s an outstanding young man, great worker, great character. He’s a smart kid too.”

Malzahnalso announced that fellow quarterback John Franklin III has made a full-time move to wide receiver this spring, but didn’t rule out him working with the quarterbacks at certain times.

With the loss of Queen and Franklin, four candidates remain in Auburn’s quarterback race — transfer Jarrett Stidham, returning starter Sean White, redshirt freshman Woody Barrett and true freshman Malik Willis.

Auburn QB race trimmed

What Gus Malzahn said about departing Auburn quarterback Tyler Queen

Queen intends to play elsewhere

Auburn beats Georgia Tech for 8th straight win in first road game of the season

The idea behind opening the season with 22 straight home games, coach Butch Thompson said at the start of the year, was so that an Auburn baseball team peppered with newcomers could get comfortable playing together in a familiar environment.

Pair of Auburn cornerbacks ‘very limited’ at practice

Gus Malzahn gave a brief update on the health of Jamel Dean and Jayvaughn Myers Tuesday

Auburn cornerbacks Jayvaughn Myers and Jamel Dean were both dressed out with braces on their surgically repaired knees during the media’s 15-minute viewing period of Tuesday’s practice.

However, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahnis being careful with each as theywork to return from their respective ACL injuries.

“They are very limited,” Malzahn said following the team’s sixth spring practice. “They’ll be cleared for summer to go. Both of them are coming along really good and we think both of them could help us.”

Dean transferred to Auburn from Ohio State in August 2015 after the Buckeyes deemed him medically ineligible. After sitting out the 2015 season hetore his ACL during Auburn’s fall camp last August.

“Obviously Dean was in the mix to start before he got hurt,” Malzahn added.

Myers tore his ACL last October after playing sparingly in the first half of the year and earned a medical redshirt for his freshman season.

Pair of Auburn cornerbacks ‘very limited’ at practice

Gus Malzahn gave a brief update on the health of Jamel Dean and Jayvaughn Myers Tuesday

Auburn quarterback field trimmed down by 2 in 1 day of spring

In just one day’s time, Auburn’s quarterback room lost two members and the competition for the starting job, on paper, was trimmed from six to four.

Auburn quarterback field trimmed down by 2 in 1 day of spring

In just one day's time, Auburn's quarterback room lost two members and the competition for the starting job, on paper, was trimmed from six to four.

Watch video

In just one day’s time, Auburn’s quarterback room lost two members and the competition for the starting job, on paper, was trimmed from six to four.

John Franklin III’s move to wide receiver on what is essentially a full-time basis for at least the remainder of spring practice andTyler Queen’s decision to transfer leaves the Tigers with four signal callers for the remainder of spring practice.

“I know (offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey)’s got a good plan for rotating the guys,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said following Tuesday’s practice, the sixth of spring. “Obviously, it’s easier to evaluate the smaller the numbers.”

Jarrett Stidham remains the overwhelming favorite to eventually win the job, though returning starter Sean White remains limited this spring. Redshirt-freshman Woody Barrett and true freshman Malik Willis will continue to take reps behind the Baylor transfer for the remaining nine spring practices.

“We’re not throwing a whole bunch of plays at ’em,” Malzahn said. “It’s just trying to get good at a few things and I think Chip’s more interested in how they comprehend, how they react, who can stay calm in the pocket, who can do the progressions and who can protect the football.

“I’d say we’re not ready to really to give any of ’em, ‘arrived or not arrived,’ it’s just a more of just the process of spring. As it gets the last five practices, things usually start to kind of make things clear.”

How soon could Auburn name its starting quarterback?

Malzahn said White participated in 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday as well as the final practice before spring break but did not and will not take part in 11-on-11 drills for the rest of spring.

“He will not do any kind of team-type deals,” Malzahn said. “It’s good to have him out there throwing; he’s still kind of on a pitch count but he was out there at least where Chip can evaluate him.”

Junior wide receiver Ryan Davis said the quarterbacks, none of whom have been available for interviews this spring, “have been doing well” and are taking to Lindsey’s coaching.

“I would say they’ve been doing well,” Davis said. “All the guys have a nice, strong arm and they all bring a different element to the game.”

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis could miss the entire spring

For the second straight year, Kyle Davis’ spring might be lost.

Auburn wide receiver ‘knocking some rust off’ in return to practice

Darius Slayton missed much of the first two weeks of practice while recovering from hernia surgery.

Watch video

Auburn may be without one of its key receivers for the remainder of spring, but the Tigers did get some good news at the position on the first day back from spring break.

Redshirt sophomore receiver Darius Slayton was back in the swing of things after being sidelined much of the first two weeks following hernia surgery earlier this spring. Slayton previously was dressed out for a couple of practices prior to spring break, but the 6-foot-2 receiver was limiteduntil Tuesday’s session.

“Darius Slayton came back and had his first practice today,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We didn’t just throw him in and let him go; we tried to be strategic and smart about it, but he got quite a few reps, and each practice we’ll bring him a little more along.”

The return of Slayton was a welcome boost for a receiving corps that was thin through the first two weeks of practice, with walk-ons Will Hastings, James Owens Moss and Griffin King all on the two-deep depth chart.

Slayton is Auburn’s leading returning receiver this spring. Last season, Slayton caught 15 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown, second only to Tony Stevens’ team-leading 487 yards receiving.

“He’s got the ability to kind of be one of the leaders of that group,” Malzahn said. “It was good to have him back out there.”

Slayton is expected to be one of Auburn’s starters at receiverthis fall, likely at split end. First, the Tigers will have to get him up to speed in new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s offense and get his legs back under him.

“He looked pretty good, just knocking some rust off,” fellow receiver Ryan Davis said. “You know, it’s his first day back; he’s been sitting for a while trying to rehab…. He looked fine to me; he looked just as fast as he always did, just knocking some rust off and getting back into the field of play and getting back into the groove of everything.”

Auburn wide receiver ‘knocking some rust off’ in return to practice

Darius Slayton missed much of the first two weeks of practice while recovering from hernia surgery.

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