'Dynamic' Auburn freshman Christian Tutt a 'pleasant surprise' at punt returner
Posted April 23, 2018 at 3:11 PM
By Tom Green
Auburn lost its No. 1 punt returner from last season, and while the Tigers have an experienced return man back this year, a newcomer could turn out to be a difference maker in the return game this fall.
Freshman defensive back Christian Tutt is in the mix for Auburn's punt return job following a solid spring showing in that role, according to running backs coach Tim Horton, who is in charge of the Tigers' punt return unit.
"Our man Tutt, he's going to be dynamic back there," Horton said. "He does a good job catching it, and he is aggressive when he gets it. So, it's really encouraging to have a freshman that you've got a lot of confidence with already."
Tutt, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound defensive back who enrolled early this spring, and worked his way up the depth chart at cornerback, where he is expected to back up Jamel Dean at boundary corner. While he will likely see the field in a reserve role in the secondary, Tutt appears to have a chance to earn the starting job on special teams.
Freshmen Monday, Tutt impressing in Auburn's reloading secondary
The former four-star prospect is vying for the starting punt return job with wide receiver Ryan Davis, who is the Tigers' only experienced punt returner on the roster after the team lost safeties Stephen Robert and Nick Ruffin to graduation. Roberts was Auburn's leading punt returner the last two seasons, and he finished last season with 17 returns for 115 yards.
Davis was Auburn's No. 2 returner in 2017, fielding two punts and averaging 21 yards per return.
The senior receiver was limited at the start of spring after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, but Horton is excited for what Davis brings in the return game.
"Obviously, we feel very confident in Ryan Davis, who has done it in the past some," Horton said. "And I think he has the chance to be really explosive."
However, Horton added, Tutt's ability in the return game was a "real pleasant surprise" during the Tigers' 15 spring practices. After Auburn finished last season in the bottom half of the SEC in punt return average, perhaps the Tigers could use a nice surprise in that facet of the game.
Horton was then asked at what point Tutt will earn the nickname "King," the veteran assistant said it would be an "appropriate" nickname for the freshman, who is well on his way to earning it.
"If he keeps doing like he's doing in the spring," Horton said, "he's king right now."