Where the young, fresh faces fit in Auburn's puzzle
There is plenty of young blood and new faces for Auburn this season. Trying to make an impression, eight new players have made some noise thus far. For some, it was expected considering the hype surrounding them. Others have turned heads when it wasn’t necessarily expected.
The question is how much of an impact will the newbies have. Will they get on the field Saturday against the Razorbacks? Will they slowly get worked in as the season progresses? Will they be redshirted? Here’s our take.
GET THEM OUT THERE NOW
Roc Thomas RB 5-10 193 Freshman Oxford, Ala. (Oxford) – Some have said that Thomas will have the starting running back job toward the latter part of the season. Let’s pump the breaks on that. That would be possible if Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant weren’t 1) as talented as they are and 2) familiar with Malzahn’s system. If Thomas arrived in Auburn in January, then maybe. Still, Thomas is a stud and too talented not to play. Coaches have said he’ll get touches. He’ll make Auburn even faster.
DaVonte Lambert DL 6-2 293 Junior Keysville, Ga. (Georgia Military College) – Defensive line coach Rodney Garner has been singing Lambert’s praises since the beginning of camp. His motor, athleticism and disciple learned in military school makes him one of the linemen that help replace Carl Lawson. He’s been battling Elijah Daniel in camp and even if Daniel gets the nod, Garner is constantly rotating his linemen. Remember, Lawson was second on the team in sacks last year and didn’t start one game.
EARNED THE RIGHT TO PLAY
Johnathan “Rudy” Ford DB 6-0 199 Sophomore Big Cove, Ala. (New Hope) – Junior college transfer Derrick Moncrief supposedly had the safety job locked up after the spring game. Ford though, whose changed positions three times since he has been on campus, is neck-and-neck with Moncrief for the boundary corner spot. Give Ford get credit for his versatility and ability to adjust on the fly. Even if Moncrief is named the starter, Ford will play in different packages.
Braden Smith OL 6-6 299 Freshman Olathe, Kansas (Olathe South) – You can’t give a freshman a spot based on strength alone but….wow! Smith benched 515 pounds three times his senior year of high school (watch here). He’s Drago, he’s the Hulk but more importantly he has the technique and speed to be a great lineman. Shon Coleman has won the job at left tackle but the Tigers need depth. Smith will see the field this year.
Raashed Kennion DL 6-6 225 Freshman Jacksonville, Fla. (First Coast) – Kennion is the guy that supposedly popped up out of nowhere. He didn’t have as many stars next to his name like the other Auburn defensive line recruits: Justin Thornton, Andrew Williams and Dontavius Russell. Length and speed is what coaches and players have noticed the most about Kennion, a 3-star recruit coming out of high school. He has a massive wing span and might be the quickest defensive end off the edge for the Tigers. Like Lambert, if Kennion doesn’t start, he’ll be used in Garner’s rotation.
Jakell Mitchell HB 6-3 218 Freshman Opelika, Ala. (Opelika) – Because there isn’t that much depth at halfback, Mitchell should see the field, even if it is sparingly. Brandon Fulse is the Tigers No.1 option at halfback. While C.J. Uzomah can play halfback too, coaches like to line him up wide like a receiver. Mitchell shouldn’t be viewed as just the next guy in line though. Despite tearing his ACL last year in high school, coaches marveled at his ability his camp.
Stanton Truitt WR 5-9 175 Freshman Atlanta, Ga. (Monroe Area) – Truitt has what Auburn loves: speed. He might get an opportunity in the returning game but with the Tigers being completely stacked at receivers, Truitt could best be served redshirting if the upperclassmen – Ricardo Louis, Corey Grant and Quan Brey – establish themselves as formidable kick and punt returners.
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR
Sean White QB 6-0 200 Freshman Boca Raton, Fla. (University Nova South) – Head coach Gus Malzahn watched White in Auburn’s first scrimmage and it emphasized the reason why they wanted him: his passing ability. White would be Auburn’s third quarterback despite Jonathan Wallace being on the roster. Wallace will be the Tigers holder this season. It would be a waste not to redshirt White this year. But fear of two quarterbacks getting hurt might keep the coaching staff from doing it. Malzahn said that Wallace has no quarterback duties whatsoever.