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State of the Roster


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I think the best way to look forward to the upcoming season, recruiting class, and future is by combing through the roster and making honest assessments about each position group. Players are listed in order of their class; I am using the grades listed on Auburn's roster.

Quarterback (4)

  1. TJ Finley (JR)
  2. Zach Calzada (SO)
  3. Robby Ashford (RS-FR)
  4. Holden Geriner (FR)

One thing I like about Harsin's roster management so far is that he seems more inclined to redshirt players; though he could better utilize the four game rule in that regard. I think we added some great depth this offseason here after Bo Nix and Dee Davis departed for Oregon and Alabama State respectively. If TJ Finley were to hold down the starting position then Calzada/Ashford/Geriner are much better depth than what we had last season.

What happens here likely depends on how Calzada's recovery progresses in the offseason. If Calzada isn't back to fullspeed during the summer it is hard to believe he'll grab the starting spot with such a short time with the team. Gelling and getting into sync with receivers and the offensive line takes time. I could see him playing QB2 until something goes south but Harsin has shown he is willing to play multiple quarterbacks when needed.

My ranking of the quarterbacks would look like this: Calzada, Ashford, Finley. I haven't seen enough of Holden Geriner to place him and knowing this staff he will likely redshirt for the future. It is hard to imagine him taking the spot from two guys with SEC starting experience and Ashford who shined during the spring game.

As far as roster management is concerned we obviously need a QB in the upcoming recruiting class but otherwise we have the grade levels spread out well. I do expect that TJ Finley transfers out if he loses the starting job which means another transfer might be needed to keep the number at four total scholarship quarterbacks. 

Position GradeC+ the average is high but the ceiling is low

Running Back (5)

  1. Tank Bigbsy (JR)
  2. Jarquez Hunter (SO)
  3. Sean Jackson (SO)
  4. Jordon Ingram (SO)
  5. Damari Alston (FR)

The order I would assume they'll be in terms of number of carries would be Bigsby, Hunter, Alston, Jackson, and then Ingram with a big gap after Alston. I think Hunter and Alston could both be RB1 on other teams but there is some improvement I would like to see Hunter develop a little more patience and short yardage ability; with his size and strength he was stuffed on numerous short yardage situations. Alston is more of a shifty pass catcher that will need to develop as a pass blocker and learn what freshmen often don't know... you gotta get uphill and not dance against SEC athletes.

Tank also needs to take the next step. I think he gets frustrated when he doesn't quite break a big run. I am not sure but if he could lose some mass in exchange for added speed it might help him turn 5 yard runs into 15 every now and then. Just spit balling but last year definitely felt like a drop off for him in the wow factor. The offensive line hasn't been stellar either though to be fair.

It is my belief that, barring an injury or a mediocre season, Tank will enter the draft at the end of this season. Hunter and Alston will be suitable replacements but a top tier running back in this recruiting class is needed. I like keeping us at three highly serviceable backs. Adding a 4-5* RB this class would give us one junior, one sophomore, and one freshman next year. This would be great roster management after a lot of running back turnover in the past.

Position Grade: A+ might be the best backfield in the SEC

Wide Receiver (9)

  1. Shedrick Jackson (SR)
  2. Ja'Varrius Johnson (JR)
  3. Malcolm Johnson Jr. (JR)
  4. Ze'Vian Capers (JR)
  5. JJ Evans (SO)
  6. Ta'varish Dawson Jr. (RS-FR)
  7. Jay Fair (FR)
  8. Camden Brown (FR)
  9. Omari Kelly (FR)

Eventually Auburn has to get lucky and land a stud receiver that can be the feature guy right? It feels like we have been waiting for that 1k yard receiver forever and Seth Williams is the closest we have been able to mange. Shedrick is a nice possession receiver but he's not the guy to take the top off a defense and he's not a super sharp route runner. Malcolm Johnson only catches big play touchdowns but then disappears for long stretches. Capers flashes potential but doesn't get the targets we would like to see. Everyone else we just need to prove they can do it on Saturday. 

Another season, another spring where we are hoping somebody steps up.

Shed is the only player we will lose after this season at wide receiver. I also think we start to see Landen King featured as a that mismatch in the slot more so he could be grouped here. It would be wise of the staff to add three more receivers assuming one graduates and at least one transfers. While we have been hot on the trail of a stud recruit it does concern me I have only seen one name at the position really generating any buzz. Taking only one in this class would be a miscalculation in my opinion; though I know we've been hunting another one through the portal right now.

Position Grade: C-

Tight End (6)

  1. John Samuel Shenker (SR)
  2. Tyler Fromm (JR)
  3. Luke Deal (JR)
  4. Brandon Frazier (JR)
  5. Landen King (SO)
  6. Micah Riley-Ducker (FR)

I was incredibly surprised at how we did not utilize the depth of our tight ends. Samuel Shenker was used well but seemed like he was the only guy getting meaningful reps and opportunities. The freshman MRD is much more similar to King than Shenker and I think that is the direction we see the position shifting towards on the plains. Smaller but more of a vertical threat in the passing game.

Shenker will be out of eligibility after this year and I could see one of the three juniors transferring to get on the field in their senior year. I know the staff has been working hard on a highly rated TE recruit but it might be worth taking two if they feel a transfer is inevitable and if King really becomes a large slot type.

Position Grade: B+ if utilized better it could easily be an "A" rating

Offensive Line (15)

  1. Jalil Irvin (SR)
  2. Nick Brahms (SR)
  3. Brenden Coffey (SR)
  4. Kameron Stutts (SR)
  5. Alec Jackson (SR)
  6. Austin Troxell (SR)
  7. Brandon Council (SR)
  8. Kilian Zierer (SR)
  9. Tate Johnson (JR)
  10. Keiondre Jones (JR)
  11. Jeremiah Wright (JR)
  12. Avery Jernigan (SO)
  13. Colby Smith (RS-FR)
  14. Garner-Langlo (RS-FR)
  15. EJ Harris (FR)

This position pisses me off I'm not going to lie. Not sure what the university is paying Will Friend to actually do here. The guy saw how many seniors we had last year and only managed to sign one offensive lineman, he missed on every single portal target, and I still haven't seen our offensive line open up a hole for a running back in years. Luckily, for him and us, a bunch of the seniors decided to use their 12th year and bail us out from what could have a catastrophe.

Side note, what in the hell do we gotta do to get guys like Yella-Fella to throw a $1m NIL deal at a daggum 5* OT???

Seriously though we need this recruiting class to have at least three offensive linemen from high school and probably two or more from the portal. There is some better momentum in this year's class but we have to actually close on these guys. Hopefully Langlo and Smith (both over 6'7") have been devleoping well and will be ready for action. 

Position Grade: C-

Defensive Line (13)

Defensive End:

  1. Colby Wooden (JR)
  2. Tobechi Okoli (RS-FR)

Defensive Line:

  1. Marcus Harris (JR)
  2. Garrison Walker (JR)
  3. Jeffrey M'ba (SO)
  4. Jayson Jones (SO)

Defensive Tackle:

  1. Zykeivous Walker (JR)
  2. Marquis Burks (SR)
  3. Marquis Robinson (RS-FR)
  4. Enyce Sledge (FR)

Edge:

  1. Eku Leota (SR)
  2. Derick Hall (SR)
  3. Dylan Brooks (RS-FR)

What a group. There is a lot of potential here that just needs to come together. Rushing three at frustrating times will not cut it. If this group isn't one of the better defensive line units in the SEC this year than we have a coaching issue. Jayson Jones and Jeffrey M'ba are physical monsters among men. Leota and Hall are draft caliber players at Edge. Brooks and Robinson are highly rated guys with a lot of upside. Walker has had three years now to develop and Wooden is an animal.

Heck even a lower rated recruit, Enyce Sledge, is 6'4" with great acceleration off the snap. Marcus Harris can't be slepped on and made plays at times last year. The best part? The only seniors are Burks/Hall/Leota. There is some production to pick up but I feel confident we are heading in the right direction. We failed to get an Edge recruit in this class; which is baffling considering we had a coach who was almost solely focused on the position. Still, there are a lot of edge guys seemingly warm on the idea of playing for the Tigers. Would love to get back to the days of having a Dee Ford type guy on the edge every year.

Position Grade: B+ the potential is sky high

Linebacker (9)

  1. Owen Pappoe (SR)
  2. Eugene Asante (JR)
  3. Desmond Tisdol (JR)
  4. Wesley Steiner (JR)
  5. Cam Riley (JR)
  6. Kameron Brown (JR)
  7. Joko Willis (SO)
  8. Powell Gordon (FR)
  9. Robert Woodyard Jr. (FR)

We have really been lucky riding Wooten/Pappoe/Zakoby for what feels like forever. Now Wooten and Zakoby are gone with Pappoe entering the draft after this season. The staff has also coasted off a huge class a few years ago that now gives us five juniors at the position. Joko Willis still needs to put on mass, Gordon is raw, and Woodyard is incredibly talented but will have to overcome his recovery first.

This is another position we desperately need to recruit well. Asante adds some depth but I'm not overly sold on him based on his prior production. Steiner seems a step slow. Riley has promise but is almost more of an edge at this point. They all have the athleticism but haven't shown the consistent ability to be surefire starters. We have also seen our linebackers abused in passing situations over the years.

Position Grade: B-

Cornerback (7)

  1. Nehemiah Pritchett (SR)
  2. DJ James (JR)
  3. Jaylin Simpson (JR)
  4. Keionte Scott (SO)
  5. AD Diamond (RS-FR)
  6. JD Rhym (FR)
  7. Austin Ausberry (FR)

The good news? Only Pritchett will leave after this year. The bad news? We're going to be young and see some freshman mistakes in the secondary. The other good news? Rhym, Ausberry, James, and Scott have the highest overall potential of any group we have had in a while. All four can legitimately be candidates to be the next McCreary/Dean/Davis/Iggy draftable corner we have been pumping out.

We need two to three more in this class to build up our numbers and depth a little more. This group will be relying on our front seven to make their lives a little easier this season. If there isn't much of a pass rush again then we are going to be in for a long season on defense.

Position Grade: C+ for now with a really high ceiling

Safety (5)

  1. Zion Puckett (JR)
  2. Donovan Kaufman (SO)
  3. Cayden Bridges (SO)
  4. Marquise Gilbert (SO)
  5. Caleb Wooden (FR)

We desperately need more talent on the back end of the secondary. Etheridge and others are working hard to make this happen with a certain 5* Alabama commit right now. However, this year it will be a battle for playing time among the guys we have. Kaufman is a baller but is rather undersized and serves us best as a nickel type player. Puckett is serviceable and there are high hopes that Gilbert might be an instant starter for us. Wooden is a tween-er that might eventually drop down into a linebacker type roll; think Smoke Monday with somewhat better speed but even more raw.

Similar to the corners above, this is a young group of players that will have some bumps along the way but has a lot of upside. Puckett/Gilbert might be our best starting two with Kaufman serving that "star" nickel role in passing scenarios. We could definitely use some speed and help over the top as teams become more and more pass heavy.

Position Grade: C+

Kicker (2)

  1. Anders Carlson (SR)
  2. Alex McPherson (FR)

It has been hard for Anders to follow his brother, Auburn's greatest kicker of all time who is crushing it in the pros, but Anders has mostly done a great job with some wow moments. McPherson is legitimately a four year starting kicker at any program in the country but with Carlson using his bonus year he may not play. The one thing that interests me is how quickly Carlson returns from surgery though as the staff may hold him out until he is 100%. It is absolutely factual we have the best two-deep at kicker in the country.

Position Grade: A-

Punter (1)

  1. Oscar Chapman (JR)

Oscar was the 2nd best punter in the SEC last year. He will hold the position down for two more years providing consistency for the Tigers. He might not have a cannon for a leg but he prevents teams from returning the punt more often than not. Chapman has a very high fair catch rate.

Position Grade: A-

Long Snapper (2)

  1. Jacob Quattlebaum (SR)
  2. Kyle Vaccarella (RS-FR)

I honestly know nothing about this. Just that Kyle was a "6-star" long snapper based on the niche rankings that they give out for the position. So Auburn should be in good hands for a long time.

Position Grade: A+

 

 

In summary:

  • Offensive Line, Linebacker, Edge, and WR recruiting are absolutely pivotal moving forward and there hasn't been a lot of reports that those things are going particularly well. They're a long way from over but that is something to watch in the recruiting forum.
  • Our Defensive Backs and Defensive Line groups have high ceilings but have to prove it.
  • Quarterback average increased but did the top?
  • Running Backs have no reason not to be the best position group
  • Tight End group needs to utilize their depth.

 

My schedule prediction assuming someone other than TJ starts:

  • Mercer - WIN
  • San Jose State - WIN
  • Penn State - WIN
  • Missouri - WIN
  • LSU - WIN
  • @ Georgia - LOSS
  • @ Ole Miss - LOSS
  • Arkansas - WIN
  • @ Mississippi State - WIN
  • Texas A&M - LOSS
  • Western Kentucky - WIN
  • @ Alabama - LOSS

(8-4) with tight wins over Penn State, LSU, Arkansas, and Mississippi State. I only feel confident about Penn State because of the two lighter games we have leading up to the Nittany Lions and the homefield advantage. Auburn fans should show up loud as hell after last year's game.

I'm interested in Georgia's defense this year after losing 5 guys that the NFL deemed to be first round talents. Even the best recruiting teams in the country have to drop off somewhat after that. Especially with Kirby who typically does less with more. However, with it being at Athens I just don't have any confidence.

Texas A&M could fall back a little this year too but as of now they have shown better recruiting and consistency than we have so I gave them the win.

This record and a bowl win would have me feeling good about the direction of the program.

 

 

 

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If TJ is qb1, we're worse off than last year. 

I find it hard to see how we improve upon last year, especially turning some of those losses into wins considering the personal changes. 

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Posted (edited)

Idk about that LSU and Arkansas game just don’t feel good about those matchups right now, it’s good we got those games at home though. We have some talent on this roster but it ain’t much at least offensively.
 

If we have even 1 injury in our skill group position then........ yikes. I know it’s always “next man up” but damn

I am excited to see who wins the starting QB spot though and I’m ready to see which younger WR steps up

Edited by Sizzle
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@ZeekIs JJ Evans still on the team? I see him listed on depth charts but never hear anything about him otherwise.

Agree 100% on Friend. He seems to have a solid rep as a recruiter everywhere he’s been until AU. He should give back some of his pay or something. 
 

 

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Thanks as always man. Imo get Cobb and a bigger back like the guy we're in on from Cali. and that is a stud RB class. Credit to Caddy. And QB will be stabilized once Ashford and Geriner get a year of development. Maybe even this year if Calzada or one of them surprises.

OL and WR though gonna take a minute to fix though. Don't see a quick fix sadly. Backfill through the portal, but these may be 3-4 HS class fixes. There's a couple of intriguing guys on the roster at receiver though. Some speedsters. Question is can they produce and catch, lol

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9 hours ago, Zeek said:

My schedule prediction assuming someone other than TJ starts:

  • Mercer - WIN
  • San Jose State - WIN
  • Penn State - WIN
  • Missouri - WIN
  • LSU - WIN
  • @ Georgia - LOSS
  • @ Ole Miss - LOSS
  • Arkansas - WIN
  • @ Mississippi State - WIN
  • Texas A&M - LOSS
  • Western Kentucky - WIN
  • @ Alabama - LOSS

(8-4) with tight wins over Penn State, LSU, Arkansas, and Mississippi State. I only feel confident about Penn State because of the two lighter games we have leading up to the Nittany Lions and the homefield advantage. Auburn fans should show up loud as hell after last year's game.

I hope you are right, but I just don't see it. PSU, LSU, Arky and MSU all wins? I think if the games were today, AU would be the underdog in at least three of those games, maybe all four.

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11 hours ago, Gowebb11 said:

@ZeekIs JJ Evans still on the team? I see him listed on depth charts but never hear anything about him otherwise.

Agree 100% on Friend. He seems to have a solid rep as a recruiter everywhere he’s been until AU. He should give back some of his pay or something. 
 

 

Sometimes I'm not sure he's a real person.

 

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@ZeekI appreciate the work you put into the above analysis of the roster. After sleeping on it, I've come up with a slightly different way of looking at it.

As compared to this time last year:

QB, worse

OL, same

RB, same

WR, worse.

DL, same

LB, worse

DB, worse

Kicker & punter, same

Overall team depth, worse.

While I'm hoping for 15-0, I'm expecting 4-8. Maybe 5-7 if we catch a lucky bounce here and there. Harsin can keep his job at 5-7 if he lands an outstanding '23 recruiting  class. However, landing an outstanding class will be tough with the second consecutive losing record.

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9 hours ago, Mikey said:

I hope you are right, but I just don't see it. PSU, LSU, Arky and MSU all wins? I think if the games were today, AU would be the underdog in at least three of those games, maybe all four.

These are all at home except State.  I don't think PSU or LSU will be very good.  LSU lost a ton to the draft and transfers.  I think we'd be favorites in those two.  State wasn't good last year and ppl love to over hype them.  Probably close.  Arkansas was a mixed bag last year, got hype then died.  They added some good piece in the portal, especially the Edge from Bama.  So much unknown how the season plays out, but it would be within a FG right now IMO maybe even a push since we're at home.

I hope we can get to 8 wins in the bowl game, look decent, have a good recruiting class and hope '23 can start turning things around

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45 minutes ago, Mikey said:

@ZeekI appreciate the work you put into the above analysis of the roster. After sleeping on it, I've come up with a slightly different way of looking at it.

As compared to this time last year:

QB, worse

OL, same

RB, same

WR, worse.

DL, same

LB, worse

DB, worse

Kicker & punter, same

Overall team depth, worse.

While I'm hoping for 15-0, I'm expecting 4-8. Maybe 5-7 if we catch a lucky bounce here and there. Harsin can keep his job at 5-7 if he lands an outstanding '23 recruiting  class. However, landing an outstanding class will be tough with the second consecutive losing record.

Bo played better in his last 4 games, but he was still bad Bo way too much in the first half of the season.  At worst Calzada is a push.  Calzada was bad a lot too last year.

I think OL has a chance to actually be slightly improved.  KZ will be a better LT.  Another year in a real system & understanding who to block.  i don't think we'll be "good" by any means.

Agree on RB/WR

DL I think has a chance to be better.  Fair was OK for what he was, but I think Jones is a better NT.  There is a lot of room for improvement from Hall/Leota/Wooden/Harris.  Harris especially.

DB - We had the 100th comp% against.  I'm not sure it can get worse.

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Pretty optimistic on your grades. Offensively I just don't see. In fact outside of Tank, I am not sold on any of our backs. Hunter's production came against cupcakes. In SEC play he only gained 194 total yards.

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7 minutes ago, 80Tiger said:

Pretty optimistic on your grades. Offensively I just don't see. In fact outside of Tank, I am not sold on any of our backs. Hunter's production came against cupcakes. In SEC play he only gained 194 total yards.

You do know that the offensive line was horrible yet you're not sold on Hunter??? He had excellent runs against PSU and LSU. He made the most of his opportunities. 

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1 hour ago, Mikey said:

@ZeekI appreciate the work you put into the above analysis of the roster. After sleeping on it, I've come up with a slightly different way of looking at it.

As compared to this time last year:

QB, worse

OL, same

RB, same

WR, worse.

DL, same

LB, worse

DB, worse

Kicker & punter, same

Overall team depth, worse.

While I'm hoping for 15-0, I'm expecting 4-8. Maybe 5-7 if we catch a lucky bounce here and there. Harsin can keep his job at 5-7 if he lands an outstanding '23 recruiting  class. However, landing an outstanding class will be tough with the second consecutive losing record.

I don't think he keeps his job at 5-7. Gotta show improvement from the previous year.

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29 minutes ago, maryland tiger said:

You do know that the offensive line was horrible yet you're not sold on Hunter??? He had excellent runs against PSU and LSU. He made the most of his opportunities. 

We are talking about backs, not the Oline and the OP said our backs could be the best in the league. Tank has proven himself as a tough runner against all levels of competition. Hunter not so much. Against SEC teams, I did not see near the tackle breaking ability that Tank has no matter what the Oline was like. I think the stats back that up. Against the 3 cupcakes he had almost 54% of his total yards for the year or 106 yards per game. The other 9 games (SEC and PSU) he averaged 28 yards per game.

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2 minutes ago, 80Tiger said:

We are talking about backs, not the Oline and the OP said our backs could be the best in the league. Tank has proven himself as a tough runner against all levels of competition. Hunter not so much. Against SEC teams, I did not see near the tackle breaking ability that Tank has no matter what the Oline was like. I think the stats back that up. Against the 3 cupcakes he had almost 54% of his total yards for the year or 106 yards per game. The other 9 games (SEC and PSU) he averaged 28 yards per game.

To be fair none of our whole offense did a whole lot there for a while. I agree, he has to be more patient waiting for his blocks but I believe we'll see that next step. Damari Alston is a dude too. Lots to prove but I think coming in with a 5-7 mindset just sounds too depressing. 

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2 minutes ago, metafour said:

TE is the best position group on offense, by far.

RB is absolutely not A+, nor is it the best in the conference.

What is your opinion of the QB's we have on the roster?

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2 hours ago, maryland tiger said:

You do know that the offensive line was horrible yet you're not sold on Hunter??? He had excellent runs against PSU and LSU. He made the most of his opportunities. 

I like Hunter, but those 2 runs were really a tiny sample size vs consistently getting blown up vs Arkansas and many other teams.

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I appreciate your write up very much, but totally disagree with you on the record.

Pittman has bettered Arkansas each year, and has done absolutely nothing to prove that he wont again this season.  Harsin has not.  I see this as a loss.

LSU under Brian Kelly scares the poop out of me.  This is the guy I wanted at Auburn.  He is a winner.  I see this as a loss.

I think that you miss the location of the Missouri game...I don't trust Harsin and crew to have the team ready to play in this game.

Mississippi State.  How in the world can anyone look at this game as a win.  We had absolutely ZERO answer for them on defense last year and they absolutely scored on us at will.  I can see it happening again this year.

I hope I am wrong, but I really cannot see more than 4 wins for this team this year.  It has NOT gotten any better with roster management through recruiting or the Portal. 

  • Mercer - WIN
  • San Jose State - WIN
  • Penn State - LOSS
  • Missouri - Iffy...hopefully a win
  • LSU - LOSS
  • @ Georgia - LOSS
  • @ Ole Miss - LOSS
  • Arkansas - LOSS
  • @ Mississippi State - LOSS
  • Texas A&M - LOSS
  • Western Kentucky - WIN
  • @ Alabama - LOSS

 

Gee, I hope I am wrong. 

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10 minutes ago, W.E.D said:

I like Hunter, but those 2 runs were really a tiny sample size vs consistently getting blown up vs Arkansas and many other teams.

I think he hit a freshman wall down the stretch. He seemed slower at the end. Not as crisp in his cuts. Granted we were playing better teams at the end and they were very good run stoppers. Also once Bo was out our offense became pretty. Pedestrian with only a drop back passer in there. 
 

im looking forward to seeing Alston as we need some definite quickness in the backfield. Hunter doesn’t provide that. 

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Posted (edited)

If Ja'Varrius Johnson 'should have been more productive,' what does that mean for 2022?

Bryan Harsin and his staff managed to pull Ja'Varrius Johnson back out of the portal this offseason. The next step is to fully unlock his big-play potential.

 
6 hr ago
 
WR Ja’Varrius Johnson (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)

 

One of the most interesting quotes from Bryan Harsin during spring practices came after the very first one.

Harsin was asked about Ja’Varrius Johnson, the wide receiver who entered the transfer portal in February but decided to return to the program before spring ball. 

(It’s worth noting that Johnson’s entrance into the transfer portal was the last major piece of negative news before news broke of Auburn’s internal investigation into Harsin. Now both Harsin and Johnson are back for the 2022 season.)

“Var was very productive last year,” Harsin said in mid-March. “Should have been more productive, and could have been. Could have been more productive. Should have been. That's not his fault — we're a part of that as a coaching staff. We have to help our players out.”

It was some real honesty from Harsin involving a player who contemplated leaving the Plains but ultimately decided to return to the program. 

And Harsin was right about Johnson’s production, even though he had only 19 catches for 274 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in 2021. Dig deeper into the numbers, and Johnson’s value to a team that lost top receiver Kobe Hudson and No. 3 wideout Demetris Robertson this offseason really stands out.

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2 hours ago, toddc said:

If Ja'Varrius Johnson 'should have been more productive,' what does that mean for 2022?

Bryan Harsin and his staff managed to pull Ja'Varrius Johnson back out of the portal this offseason. The next step is to fully unlock his big-play potential.

 
6 hr ago
 
WR Ja’Varrius Johnson (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)

 

One of the most interesting quotes from Bryan Harsin during spring practices came after the very first one.

Harsin was asked about Ja’Varrius Johnson, the wide receiver who entered the transfer portal in February but decided to return to the program before spring ball. 

(It’s worth noting that Johnson’s entrance into the transfer portal was the last major piece of negative news before news broke of Auburn’s internal investigation into Harsin. Now both Harsin and Johnson are back for the 2022 season.)

“Var was very productive last year,” Harsin said in mid-March. “Should have been more productive, and could have been. Could have been more productive. Should have been. That's not his fault — we're a part of that as a coaching staff. We have to help our players out.”

It was some real honesty from Harsin involving a player who contemplated leaving the Plains but ultimately decided to return to the program. 

And Harsin was right about Johnson’s production, even though he had only 19 catches for 274 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in 2021. Dig deeper into the numbers, and Johnson’s value to a team that lost top receiver Kobe Hudson and No. 3 wideout Demetris Robertson this offseason really stands out.

I totally agree w this. Losing JJ to the portal would have left us w no experienced big hitter player. He has speed great cutting ability and can get open quicker than anyone else on the roster except maybe Dawson who needs experience in this offense. 
 

some of the few bombs Bo could hit was to JJ. 

I totally thought JJ should been targeted every game for the most throws bc he was going to catch it and run w it.  
 

whether that was the coaches or Bo not finding him I have a feeling it was a little of both.
 

I hope Harsin backs up what he says.   

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15 minutes ago, steeleagle said:

I totally agree w this. Losing JJ to the portal would have left us w no experienced big hitter player. He has speed great cutting ability and can get open quicker than anyone else on the roster except maybe Dawson who needs experience in this offense. 
 

some of the few bombs Bo could hit was to JJ. 

I totally thought JJ should been targeted every game for the most throws bc he was going to catch it and run w it.  
 

whether that was the coaches or Bo not finding him I have a feeling it was a little of both.
 

I hope Harsin backs up what he says.   

He continues to be humble and pivot on some things that were a problem and that’s encouraging to me.

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