2018 Auburn Camp Chronicles: (Practice I & ll)August 5, 2018
It’s finally here. Ladies and gentlemen, college football is back! Auburn opened up its 2018 fall camp on Friday and practiced again on Saturday. The first practice included a twenty-minute media viewing window and a Malzahn press-conference after practice, but Saturday excluded both. However, we’ve got you covered from top to bottom on all those little moist nuggets that are all so wholesome and nourishing to one’s soul this time of year. We love our Auburn Football by God. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Former five-star offensive lineman Calvin Ashley shifted over from right tackle to right guard and worked with the second team, though Gus said it wasn’t “set in stone.” Keep in mind that Ashley is just a redshirt freshman and still has four years of eligibility remaining, but coaches like what they’re seeing out of the former highly-rated prospect. At 6-foot-6, 322-pounds, Calvin Ashley maybe related to an army tank. I know everyone expects a five-star to jump right in and start, but that’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. Every prospect progresses differently and Auburn coaches are uber-excited about Ashley’s future. This fall camp I hope Ashley raises his game to a whole new level that even he didn’t think existed. I hope he pushes himself for greatness because the good Lord certainly gave him the physical tools to potentially be one of the most dominating offensive linemen in the game, it’s just a matter of everything falling perfectly into place. Calvin Ashley is a damn fine player and I’m excited about following his career on the plains.
Former four-star offensive lineman hailing from Madison Academy outside of Huntsville, Alabama, where Kerryon Johnson and Malik Miller played, redshirt freshman Austin Troxell, who actually may have gotten the upper-hand on Ashley for the right tackle spot in the spring, has started off fall camp practicing with the ones at right tackle.
Meanwhile, graduate-transfer Jack Driscoll, who has 20 starts under his belt during his time at UMass, is running behind Troxell with the twos. But Auburn fans need not be alarmed. When Auburn typically brings in a grad-transfer, the player starts out in a backup role, but based upon everything we’re hearing, Driscoll’s likely going to be your starting right tackle when the Tigers line up against Washington on Labor Day weekend in the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff Game. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham did throw out the “freak” label on Driscoll, so maybe he is a beast, but I’m sure Troxell will fight him tooth and nail for that starting spot.
The other offensive linemen running with the ones were left tackle Prince Tega-Wanogho, who returns starting experience. Juniors Marquell Harrell and Mike Horton also have starting experience and they lined up at first-team left and right guard, respectively. Redshirt junior Caleb Kim is starting out at center with the ones, but don’t be shocked if Horton slides down to center for the Washington game, which will open up a possible senario for a new guy to start at right guard like a Calvin Ashley, or Brodarius Hamm, or even Tashawn Manning depending on who steps up in camp. Hamm and center Nick Brahms are currently wearing orange non-contact jersies and they’re being brought along slowly after they both suffered injuries in the spring.
Sticking with the offensive side of the ball, really amazing news and progress shared by Auburn receivers Eli Stove and Will Hastings, who both suffered ACL tears in spring ball. The two receivers are flying around in fall camp, albeit wearing knee braces and orange non-contact jerseys, but their recovery has truly been phenomenal and I fully expect the duo back by mid-season.
True-freshman receivers Matthew Hill and Anthony Schwartz have looked impressive so far and their transition to the college game will be fun to watch.
Former four-star offensive lineman from Southside-Gadsden, Tyler Carr will soon graduate and is ready to focus on the next chapter of his life without football, so he is no longer apart of the Auburn football team.
A youngster on defense has surprised everyone by starting out with the ones — Javaughn Meyers practically started his Auburn career injured, but hard work and determination has saw the sophomore ascend to first-team nickleback on one of the country’s best defenses. The brother of Nate Craig-Meyers, Jayvaughn has impressed coaches with a solid summer. Sophomore Jordyn Peters, who made some very, very nice plays in his true-freshman 2017 season, was running with the twos at nickelback behind Meyers.
The news is encouraging for defensive back coaches Greg Brown and Marcus Woodson. After losing three starters in the defensive backfield, Auburn needs a new crop of playmakers to rise up and guys like Meyers and Noahn Igbignoghene, who rotated with the one’s at cornerback, are young guys who are obviously rising to the occasion.
Justin Thomas and Jeremiah Dinson were your starting safeties after Dinson was said to be the most consistent defender in all of spring ball. Thomas will need to step up to keep Smoke Monday and Jamien Sherwood at bay, or one of the second-string true-freshman safeties will take the bull by the horns as in the starting spot.
Defensive coaches really like the length of true-freshman linebacker Michael Harris, who played at Tucker High School in Georgia. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Harris has a prototypical frame, one that Auburn strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell will transform into a machine. Remember Harris’ name, he’s running with the two’s early in camp.
Chandler Wooten and K.J. Britt are a couple other young linebackers that Auburn is impressed with and feel have a bright future ahead. Of course Auburn features three senior starters at ‘backer in Deshaun Davis, Darrell Williams, and Montavious Atkinson, but you better believe that Auburn linebacker coach Travis Williams isn’t scared to throw those young guys in the line of fire and form a solid rotation behind the senior trio.
Arryn Siposs, the new Aussie punter is obviously resurrecting the spirit of Terry Daniel, launching sky-rockets in practice as far as 70 yards according to Gus. It sounds silly to name a punter my Auburn Tiger Newcomer of the Year, but Auburn was atrocious in punting and punt coverage last season, so there’s a great opportunity to make a huge splash. If Siposs is everything we think he will be, Auburn’s punting and special teams stats could go from some of the worst in the country in 2017 to some of the best in the nation this season. Simply put, Arryn Siposs could completely change the game for Auburn Football. The Tigers made it to Atlanta despite poor punting and field position average last season, so imagine if you completely flip the field in 2018 with a dynamic punter and then combine that with one of the country’s nastiest front-seven’s and Auburn’s first returning 3,000 yard passer – there’s ample reason for excitement, Tiger fans.
Practice 2 was Saturday and it was closed to the media, so no one knows anything, but we’re told that the beginning of fall camp is devoted to the new players in teaching them the “Auburn way,” which is work, hard work. Not doing anything half-ass on the practice fields. Running. Sprinting. Hustling. Being attentive. Coaches pay attention to the players who not only know their own jobs, but they’re directing their teammates because of their overall knowledge and understanding of what’s expected. Again, the beginning of fall camp is all about indoctrinating the new Auburn Tigers and even giving some old ones some refreshers on what it means to be an Auburn Tiger, specifically on the practice fields, where coaches expect all out effort and pure grit. The Auburn coaching staff want a championship culture and with that comes doing everything you do with a spirit of excellence, so more than anything, that is the theme of the beginning of fall camp. Auburn Football demands excellence, so you either play with the big dogs and push your body harder than you’ve ever pushed it, or you can keep your ass up on the porch with the 7-5 teams.