Auburn freshman defensive back JD Rhym making noise early in spring
AUBURN, Alabama—Despite the return of guys like Nehemiah Pritchett and Jaylin Simpsonoff last year’s cornerback group, Auburn DB coach Zac Etheridge was looking for some immediate help at the cornerback position in the 2022 class with the loss of potential first round NFL selection Roger McCreary and the transfer in and out of former West Virginia cornerback Dreshun Miller.
Even though it’s only a week into his first spring with the Tigers, it looks like 4-star signee and early enrollee JaDarian Rhym could be just that guy.
With over 100 tackles in his last two seasons at powerhouse Valdosta (Georgia) High, Rhym was committed to LSU, but the work of Etheridge and the Auburn staff played a big role in him flipping last December.
Now working at both cornerback and the nickel position in the spring for the Tigers, the 6-1, 180 Rhym hasn’t taken long to make an impression on his new teammates and coaches with his playmaking ability and also because of how quickly he has picked things up on defense since arriving on campus in January.
“The person that stands out to me is JD Rhym,” Pritchett said. “He’s playing two positions and he’s picking it up pretty fast. He got Player of the Day the other day and got a forced fumble.”
As someone that had to play early in his career with the Tigers out of Jackson High, Pritchett knows the difficulty of making this transition and he’s been surprised at how quickly the young player is fitting in.
“You rarely see freshmen jump in there like that and become that type of player,” Pritchett said. “He’s coming along pretty fast.”
It’s not just the secondary guys that have noticed Rhym. One of the leaders on Auburn’s defense, Marcus Harris said JD is a guy that has jumped to him the more and more he’s seeing from the true freshman on the field.
“We did goal line period and he came up and stuck the running back and made him fumble,” Harris said of Rhym. “I didn’t expect that from a cornerback and especially a freshman cornerback coming in. He wasn’t afraid of the moment. He knows how we take goal line. We don’t like to let the offense in. He made a tremendous play.
“Then it’s his ball-hawk skills. He’s picking plays off during team period. I’ll be so amazed because I just think about me coming in as a freshman and how nervous I would be. It just seems like he doesn’t get nervous and is ready for the moment.”
The Tigers will have practice number six of the spring on Wednesday as they continue to work towards the A-Day game on April 9 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.