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5.21.23 Football Articles


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Auburn depth chart impact OLB Stephen Sings V

Nathan King

4–5 minutes

Auburn’s transfer portal efforts are nearly complete, and one its final additions is a player familiar with much of the coaching staff.

Former Liberty defensive end Stephen Sings V has committed to Auburn following a visit this weekend, adding more depth and versatility to a position group slim on both. Sings is now the sixth transfer to be added to Auburn’s defensive front this offseason.

The No. 5 highest-rated recruit to ever sign with Liberty, Sings’ was a rotational piece for the Flames each of the past three years. He’s had at least three tackles for loss each season, and 2022 was his best year, posting 3.5 sacks and batting down three passes at the line of scrimmage.

Sings played most of his snaps at defensive end with Liberty, but Auburn Undercover is told he was recruited to the Tigers as a "jack" outside linebacker.

The Tigers have been thin at their pass-rusher spot for the better part of the past two seasons, and continued to search for depth following spring practice, even after the addition of App State transfer Jalen McLeod. Starters Derick Hall and Eku Leota departed for the NFL, and former top-100 recruit Dylan Brooks entered the transfer portal last week.

That left only Vanderbilt transfer Elijah McAllister, along with true freshmen Keldric Faulk, the top-rated signee in Auburn’s 2023 class, and Brenton Williams at the outside linebacker spot. Defensive ends Jeffrey M'ba and Tobechi Okoli also entered the transfer portal this spring, leaving Auburn with a relative deficiency there, too.

Sings is the sixth incoming transfer for Auburn in the second portal window — joining North Texas linebacker Larry Nixon III, North Texas receiver Jyaire Shorter, McLeod, Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne, Ohio State receiver Caleb Burton and Tulsa offensive lineman Jaden Muskrat — and the 19th overall for Hugh Freeze’s transfer class, which has been ranked in the top 5 nationally by 247Sports for most of the cycle.

With the Tigers not likely to add any more players to the position, let’s take a look at the personnel Auburn is rolling with this season at its edge rusher spot, along with how Sings could impact the lineup.

Seniors: Elijah McAllister, Jalen McLeod

Juniors: Stephen Sings V (RS)

Sophomores: N/A

Freshmen: Keldric Faulk, Brenton Williams


Depth chart projection

1: Elijah McAllister OR Jalen McLeod

2: Keldric Faulk OR Stephen Sings V

Auburn’s defensive end spot under coordinator Ron Roberts will be fluid enough to include some of the Tigers’ more physical pass-rushers, along with quick defensive linemen, so the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Sings can likely be utilized in a number of different lineups, depending on opposing personnel.

But Sings is, according to a source close to his recruitment, set to be slotted into the jack linebacker room, which is overseen by Roberts. The smaller and quicker McLeod should end up as Auburn’s third-down specialist off the edge, and McAllister and Faulk are jack linebackers first and foremost, but Faulk certainly has the size to play on the D-line, too.

Sings’ addition seems comparable to that of Marcus Bragg last offseason, who came over as a rotational piece from Western Kentucky but possessed the size and experience to fill a need on Auburn’s defensive front. If Auburn gets the same kind of production from Sings this season — a versatile backup who allows for a deeper rotation on the edge of the D-line — he’s certainly a worthwhile pickup.

Auburn will hope that Sings’ familiarity with names like D-line coach Jeremy Garrett and linebackers coach Josh Aldridge — his defensive coordinator at Liberty last season — will pay some dividends and allow him to make his presence felt on the defensive front, even if it isn’t as consistent as some of the Tigers’ higher-profile transfer additions.

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Why transfer receiver Jyaire Shorter already has familiarity with Auburn

Nathan King

5–7 minutes

Though he’s stepping foot into the SEC for the first time, there are several layers of familiarity already at Auburn for new transfer wide receiver Jyaire Shorter.

The Tigers’ newest addition on offense after committing to the program Tuesday, Shorter said after visiting the Plains that Auburn’s offense is similar to what he’s been used to at North Texas — the one in which Shorter caught 11 touchdowns and averaged 27.3 yards per reception last year, the highest mark in college football.

That’s because Shorter’s offensive coordinator for the past two years at North Texas was Mike Bloesch, who was hired to that role after five seasons serving as the offensive line coach at Tulsa, where new Auburn offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery was the head coach.

“It’s the same offense that they ran at Tulsa, so he brought that to North Texas,” Shorter said on a new episode of the Auburn Undercover Podcast. “And it’s the same offense I guess Auburn used to run or was running last year and they’re supposed to be running this year. So it’s really like the same offense, just a lot of choice routes and stuff like that. I feel like I can come in and fit that offense perfectly because I already know what I’m doing and it’s just a little more nicks and techniques that Auburn has that we didn’t run, because they run more stuff over there, but it’s really like the same offense.

“I just feel like they want to take shots, throw the ball, I feel like I can come in and be that deep threat they need.”

Shorter has good reason to be confident entering Auburn’s receiving corps, looking to become a consistent vertical target. Not only was Shorter’s yards per catch the highest figure in the country last season, but his average depth of target was 22.2 yards, also tops in college football.

The 6-foot-2 Shorter’s numbers were hindered by inaccurate quarterback play, but when the ball was launched his way, he was usually coming down with a big play. Among FBS players with at least 10 touchdown receptions last season, Shorter’s 23 receptions were by far the fewest; the next-closest player had 44 catches.

“He’s proven he can go get the ball,” Hugh Freeze said of Shorter this week. “He gives us some length and catch radius that we need for what we want to do offensively.”

When Shorter entered the portal, he admitted it was a stressful process. Being woken up by 8 a.m. phone calls from coaches started to get old. But when first-year Auburn receivers coach Marcus Davis reached out, there was an instant connection, partially because Davis has a relationship with one of Shorter’s coaches from North Texas.

“Last year my receiving (grad assistant), him and Coach Davis are cool friends,” Shorter said. “And I feel like the conversation I had with Coach Davis was basically like the conversation I had with my old GA from last year. They’re just real people, they understand what players go through and how we think. They’re not too much older than me, so I just feel like they’re going to keep it real and make sure we’re straight and take care of me.”

Much of Davis’ pitch, according to Shorter, was that Auburn’s receiving corps is still mostly unproven and could use a veteran addition — especially on the outside.

“The conversation that me and coach had about the receiver room, I feel like I can come in and make an impact and just lead the other guys and show them what a leader is,” Shorter said. “I know I’ve got a lot of game-time experience, so I can just come in and help them out. We can help each other, really, because I know I’ve got stuff I need to work on myself and they can help me out. Just really help each other out and make it a better wide receiver room.”

To top things off, Shorter’s “best friend” is coming to the SEC with him. North Texas linebacker Larry Nixon III committed to Auburn on the same day as Shorter, and the two plan on rooming together again on the Plains.

Both came to North Texas as members of the 2018 class and have had a close relationship ever since. Shorter said the fact that Nixon was also interested in Auburn as a transfer destination certainly influenced his decision.

“When we both knew that Auburn wanted us and liked us a lot, we were talking a lot,” Shorter said. “We went on other school visits and everything, but we kind of knew where we were going to be at and we knew Auburn was the place just because we’ve lived together, I’ve known him for five years and I feel like we’ve got a good bond. Going to Auburn and knowing that he’s coming with me and I know someone there already and I can be comfortable, I guess you can say that, and I have someone already out there.”

Shorter is still at home in Texas but will be bustling over the next week to pack and make his way to Auburn. After all, Michigan State transfer quarterback Payton Thorne is already on campus, and Shorter knows he’ll have some catching up to do before fall camp.

“I feel like all the portal guys we got, this summer is going to be pretty big,” Shorter said. “Because we’ve got to all get in the playbook, learn the plays because we’re all new here so we’ve got to get in the playbook, learn the plays and just start running routes, catching. Make sure our timing and everything is right so when fall camp and the season comes, we ain’t have no worries or anything.”

Check out the full interview with Shorter below on the Auburn Undercover Podcast.

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Auburn football is revamping their receiving core - and it's starting to look scary

Lance Dawe
5–6 minutes

Auburn football's passing offense was lacking last season, to say the least.

Most of the struggles to put the ball in the air revolved around poor quarterback play and an egregious offensive line.

The receiver room wasn't great, but by no means was it bailing out the other two phases of the passing attack. All of this could be somewhat excused by the poor coaching on that side of the ball, but I digress.

Since Hugh Freeze entered the picture last November the Tigers' three phases of the passing game have improved on paper.

Auburn got their transfer quarterback in Payton Thorne. The offensive line added three portal prospects and a handful through the freshman recruiting class. Those two positions have been the primary focus for the past couple of months.

It feels like the actual pass-catchers Auburn has obtained are going unnoticed, with now three players having committed through the portal... and potentially a couple more on the way.

The wide receiver core caught some flack online during spring practice from some major outlets, and even head coach Hugh Freeze had voiced his thoughts on how he needed to see more progression from the players.

It's not like receivers such as Camden Brown, Ja'Varrius Johnson and Koy Moore aren't talented. It's just taken a while for the unit to adjust to a new scheme that can competently throw the ball. The addition of a few more pass catchers wouldn't hurt the Tigers overall depth.

Here's a look at the transfer portal prospects and commits the Tigers have as well as the currently receivers on roster:

Transfer Prospects/Commits

Jyaire Shorter - North Texas

Shorter has played 30 games over the course of five seasons for the Mean Green (three of those seasons he played two games or less), collecting 1,320 yards and 20 touchdowns on just 58 receptions, ending his UNT career with an impressive 22.8 yards per catch. Shorter caught 23 passes for 628 yards, an average of 27.3 yards per reception.

Montana Lemonious-Craig - Colorado

Lemonious-Craig played in all 12 games last season for Colorado and had an amazing Spring game Saturday. Last year Lemonious-Craig caught 23 balls for 359 yards with 3 touchdowns on a team that lost 11 games. His career totals are 34 for 497 and 5 touchdowns in a very anemic offense.

He decided to test the transfer portal waters after he lit up the Spring game for three catches totaling 154 yards and a touchdown.

Keon Coleman - Michigan State

The former four-star played alongside Auburn portal commit Payton Thorne, was the lead receiver for the Spartans last year. He caught 58 passes for 798 yards and seven touchdowns. He caught seven balls for 50 yards and a touchdown in four games during his freshman season.

Caleb Burton - Ohio State (COMMITTED)

The former 4-star Austin, Texas native spent one year with the Ohio State Buckeyes and will have four years of eligibility now at Auburn.

On last year's roster, Ohio State listed Burton at 5-foot-11, 169 pounds. He was recruited to play both the outside and the slot positions when he was coming out of the high school ranks. This is one of Auburn's biggest gets in the portal thus far.

Nick Mardner - Cincinnati (COMMITTED)

Mardner spent three seasons with the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors before transferring to play for the Bearcats. In three years, he accumulated 1,270 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He had 218 yards and three touchdowns in his lone season with Luke Fickell and Cinci. He was coached by former Auburn pass-catcher and new receivers coach Marcus Davis.

The Tigers have been looking for a strong outside target in the transfer portal and Mardner may be that pickup - standing at 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, he could end up being a versatile pickup.

His breakout season included 913 yards and five touchdowns in 2021, a season where he averaged 19.8 yards per catch.

Rivaldo Fairweather - FIU (COMMITTED)

Fairweather had 838 receiving yards and five touchdowns during his time at FIU and was the third-highest rated TE in the transfer portal. Another valuable get for Hugh Freeze's offense. Fairweather was one of the more consistent pass-catchers during spring.

Rest of Receiver Room

Koy Moore (562 career receiving yards)

Camden Brown (123 career receiving yards)

Jay Fair (34 career receiving yards)

Ja'Varrius Johnson (767 career receiving yards)

Malcolm Johnson Jr (110 career receiving yards)

Omari Kelly (56 career receiving yards)

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it is a slow day for football but i will check in a couple times with updates if i run across any.

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Elite OT Daniel Calhouts sets official visit to Auburn

JD McCarthy
~2 minutes


Hugh Freeze and Auburn’s coaching staff have prioritized recruiting the offensive line since they took and now one of the best offensive tackles in the country is set to officially visit.

Four-star prospect Daniel Calhoun is set to take an official visit to the Plains on June 12, according to a report from Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.

Calhoun is from Marietta, Georgia, and has already taken multiple visits to Auburn. The 6-foot-7, 355-pounder already will have a busy June with official visits also scheduled to Georgia (June 2), Alabama (June 9), Tennessee (June 16) and Texas (June 23).

He is the No. 88 overall player and No. 5 offensive tackle in the 247Sports Composite ranking. He is also the No. 15 player from Georgia.

Auburn is still looking for its first commitment along the offensive line in the 2024 recruiting cycle.

More Football!

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