This just in: Tank Bigsby is a beast!

Oh, you’ve heard it before? Yeah, they don’t call him “Tank” for nothing. The freshman sensation piled up the 5th-most broken tackles (0.34) per rushing attempt in the FBS last season, according to Pro Football Focus analysis. In the immortal words of legendary Georgia broadcaster Larry Munson, “My God, a freshman.”

Now I’m certainly not comparing Bigsby to Bulldogs’ great Herschel Walker … not yet, anyway, but it didn’t go unnoticed that Bigsby’s rushing total of 834 yards last season were 5 more than what Bo Jackson ran as a freshman at Auburn in 1982. And they were second-most by a freshman in program history next to Michael Dyer’s 1,093 yards in 2010.

It’s not news that the 6-foot, 208-pound “tank” is among the best returning backs in the country. He scratched and clawed his way to that 834-yard total, which was 2nd-most by a freshman in FBS and 5th-best in the SEC, and scored 5 touchdowns last season while averaging 6 yards per carry. Oh, and he did that exclusively against SEC defenses.

I mean he quite literally scratched and clawed his way to one of the most prolific freshman seasons in program history. Think about it, he did all that with no spring and a shortened fall practice because of COVID, and behind an offensive line that spent most the 2020 season trying to find an identity. He became the first Auburn freshman to rush for 100 yards in 3 consecutive games and 4 total.

Fast forward to 2021 and that same offensive line that struggled last season now has a year of reps to lean on. What can we expect from Bigsby running behind a more experienced and confident set of blocking in front of him? Whew, defensive coordinators across the SEC shutter at the very idea.

Well, I’ll just say it now: In a pass-happy landscape that Bo Jackson wouldn’t recognize, Bigsby will become Auburn’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Kerryon Johnson accomplished the feat in 2017 with 1,391 yards.

That’s not some big bold prediction. Not when you consider that what Bigsby did last year was accomplished over a 10-game schedule, plus the fact that he was slowed by injury late in the season before bouncing back with a 192-yard effort in the regular-season finale at Mississippi State, which by the way was 3rd-best by a freshman in program history.

If you add 2 or 3 more games to that in a normal non-COVID season you come up with somewhere around 1,084 total yards running behind last year’s rebuilt 0-line. Factor in the improvement we all expect from this year’s unit in the trenches, add a few cupcakes and that total has the potential to grow significantly.

And hey let’s not forget that Bigsby not only runs with authority, he has great hands and can catch a pass out of the backfield. He caught 7 passes for 68 yards against Georgia. On top of that, he averaged 23.54 yards on 13 kickoff returns. He turned in the 6th-best all-purpose performance in Auburn history and best-ever by a freshman with 268 yards against Arkansas (146 rushing, 106 kick return, 16 receiving).

Add it all up and Bigsby totaled 1,224 all-purpose yards as a true freshman, garnering SEC Freshman of the Year and First Team All-SEC Freshman Team honors. He ranked 8th in the conference in all-purpose yardage, averaging 122.4 per game.

Yeah, he’s on everybody’s Watch List. The sky’s the limit for this do-it-all talent, whose breakaway abilities were on display with 15 plays of 20+yards last season (8 kickoff returns, 7 rushes).

And in new head coach Bryan Harsin’s scheme, he is afforded the opportunity to utilize his strength and explosiveness with more downhill running.

“We’re more downhill this year,” Bigsby said. “We’ve got (offensive coordinator) Mike Bobo, we’ve got Coach Harsin, big offensive guys. I feel like we’re going to be really good at what we do, especially running the ball. I feel like we’re going to be great at that.”

As long as they turn around and hand it to you, Tank, they certainly will be.