Five options to replace Kerryon Johnson's production: Devan Barrett
When Kerryon Johnson declared for the 2018 NFL draft, head coach Gus Malzahn lost his leading scorer and most valuable offensive weapon. When it comes to replacing that production, there's no easy answer. Yesterday, we profiled Kam Martin as the potential heir apparent and Auburn's next thousand yard rusher but perhaps Devan Barrett better meets the necessary qualifications.
Barrett was a consensus four star running back in the 2017 signing class, hailing from Tampa Catholic High School. Over the course of his high school career, he tallied over 4,000 career yards and 44 touchdowns. Barrett chose Auburn over home state schools Florida and Florida State and over traditional southern powers Alabama and Georgia.
Over the course of the season, Barrett saw limited touches but contributed when given the opportunity. He rushed 14 times for 79 yards and caught ten passes for 33 yards and a score, while also spending time as a contributor on special teams.
While those numbers hardly project a future of SEC stardom, it's important to remember that this is the norm for a freshman in Gus Malzahn's offense. Throughout his time at Auburn, both as head coach and as offensive coordinator, Malzahn is hesitant to become overly reliant on freshmen in his offense. In fact, outside of Malik Willis' garbage time work at quarterback, Devan Barrett was the most used freshman on offense this season.
A good comparison to look back on would be Tre Mason, who became a star and a Heisman finalist during Malzahn's first season as Auburn's head coach. Mason originially had a very similar workload to that of Devan Barrett this season. In 2011, Mason's freshman year, he was stuck behind the duo of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb. Over the entire season, Mason logged just 28 touches, four more than Barrett in 2017.
Yesterday, we detailed how Kam Martin's size was an issue, one that could prevent him from being the bellcow back. Barrett doesn't have that issue. The freshman running back already weighs in ten pounds heavier than Martin, and is expected to add 10 to 15 more pounds over the offseason. If he is able to meet that goal, he'll reach the size that most of Gus Malzahn's star backs have shared.
While Barrett didn't set the world on fire in his first season, there's no doubt his coaches and teammates share faith in him to get the job done when his number is called.