Auburn Football: What You Need to Know for Spring Practice
Head Coach Gus Malzahn (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
Just shy of two months since Auburn last played a football game, the Tigers return to the practice field to begin spring drills. Head Coach Gus Malzahn met with the media on Tuesday prior to the start of spring practice and gave a few updates concerning the program, including roster moves and what he expects to see in the 15 practices for A-Day. Players no longer with the team To go along with the many seniors and draft-eligible juniors who declared early, a handful of other student-athletes will no longer be with the team heading into the 2017 season. Deon Mix- Graduated, will look to be a graduate transfer Cameron Toney- Graduated, will no longer play with the team. No word as to if he will transfer or not. Markell Boston- No longer with the team. Malzahn says that Boston did not meet the program's standards. Stephen Davis Jr.- No longer with the team, no explanation. Injuries/Other matters Many players were hit with the injury bug during the 2016 season. After a brief rest period, Malzahn was able to comment on players that were cleared for contact, and those that need more time to heal and focus. Sean White- In more ways than one, White is the headliner heading into the 2017 season. In this instance, we will discuss his arm. After playing through a shoulder injury in the latter portion of the season, it was announced that White had broken his arm during the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma. According to Malzahn, there is a chance that White could miss spring practice while he recovers from his injury.
KJ Britt- The early signee from Oxford had a procedure on his leg, and will not go through drills.
Darius Slayton- Slayton will miss practice until after spring break due to offseason hernia surgery.
Kyle Davis- Davis will miss practice until after spring break, due to personal matters.
Brodarious Hamm- Hamm, along with Tashawn Manning, have been cleared to participate in spring drills after beating cancer.
Paul James III- Cleared to play
Jeremiah Dinson- Will not participate in spring drills
Jamel Deen- Will not participate in spring drills
Jauntavius Johnson- Will not participate in spring drills Quarterbacks Ok, here we go. The big question that many Auburn fans are asking is “who will be the starting quarterback for 2017?” With Sean White starting a majority of games in his two years on campus, the obvious choice would be him. However, the program received a transfer in Jarrett Stidham, who tossed 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns for Baylor in 2015. Throw him in with John Franklin III, and two freshmen in Woody Barrett and Malik Willis… you have a competition. When asked about the competition, Malzahn says that he wants to put the best players on the field, but realizes that a decision on the starting quarterback will probably have to wait. “Obviously, we want to make sure that (at) all positions we put the best player out there, so there’s no timetable as far as naming really any position or quarterback. But we are sensitive to the fact that Sean is going to have a hard time going through spring, so we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” Malzahn also says that each quarterback will get an equal set of reps to being spring, but the competition will be narrowed by the time A-Day rolls around. Another note, Malzahn said that Franklin will begin the spring competing for the quarterback spot, but is open to moving positions if needed. New Hires Auburn and Malzahn have hired two new graduate assistants and an analyst in addition to hiring new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, defensive backs coach Greg Brown, and tight ends coach Larry Porter. “Cole Weeks will be working with our offense and Charles Moore will be working with our defense. We also hired a new analyst in Brian Blackmon. I am very excited about Brian. I think he will be an excellent college coach.” Lindsey’s strategy For the first time in the Gus Malzahn era at Auburn, someone not named Rhett Lashlee will run the offense. Chip Lindsey was hired on January 21 and is expected to have a larger role in play calling, as well as decision making. Lindsey is known as a quarterback developer, which is what impressed Malzahn the most about him. Malzahn hopes that Lindsey’s ability to develop quarterbacks will help the offense become more balanced. A-Day is set to take place at Jordan-Hare Stadium on April 8.