The top 10 Auburn Tiger football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
What You Need To Know About The Auburn Offense
Didn’t you used to be the Auburn offense?
1. DE Carl Lawson, Jr.
After a terrific freshman season finishing fourth on the team with 20 tackles and four sacks, he appeared to be ready to step up and dominate as the main man on the line. One torn ACL later, he tried to come back and be the same type of speed rusher last season, but he only came up with one sack and three tackles for loss with the year screwed up by a hip injury. Now he appears to be back and ready to dominate following an outstanding spring looking like a killer at one of the end spots. At 6-2 and 257 pounds he’s built a bit like a beefed up linebacker, but he’s an ultra-quick end with next-level skills and upside – if he can stay in one piece.
2. S Johnathan Ford, Sr.
Originally a running back, the 6-0, 203-pounder quickly adapted to the defensive side early in his career, and after a few years he’s one of the nation’s best. One of the team’s top tacklers over the last few seasons, Ford followed up a terrific 2014 run – making 93 tackles with three picks – with 118 tackles and two interceptions moving around where needed at safety. Able to play nickel if needed, and with the speed to get around as a free safety, he can do it all, but he’s at his best as a run defender coming up with 14 tackles three times and double-digit stops in seven games.
3. DT Montravius Adams, Sr.
One of the SEC’s better veteran defensive linemen, he’s been through the wars seeing a little time as an end here and there while doing most of his work as a quick tackle. At 6-4 and 296 pounds he’s got good enough size to be an anchor, but he can do a little of everything right with 6.5 career sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. Last season he cranked up a career-high 44 tackles, but he’s been a producer from Day One with the upside to do even more as a pass rusher. As terrific as he’s been, he has room to take his game up a few notches as a force in the interior. With Carl Lawson back on the outside, he might have more room to move.
4. OG Alex Kozan, Sr.
Back to form after missing all of 2014 hurt with a back problem, he played last year, but he wasn’t the same dominant force he was before the injury. The former Freshman All-American has 6-4, 300-pound size, nice quickness, and the smarts and toughness to be the leader of the line – and now he’ll be an all-star again if everything is right. Built like a tackle, he’s a force at left guard where he’s the one locked in guy up front. The line might be a work in progress this fall, but Kozan’s the anchor.
5. CB Carlton Davis, Soph.
There was an off-the-field incident – he was arrested for possession of marijuana – but all is right with the world and now he appears ready to come up with an all-star season at one corner spot. At 6-1 and 190 pounds he’s got the size to be physical, and he has the raw speed and quickness to be a true corner and not a safety – at least not yet. In his true freshman season he came up with 56 tackles with three picks and eight broken up passes as one of the team’s biggest bright spots. He’ll have help in the secondary, but get ready for him to be the standout star.
6. PK Daniel Carlson, Jr.
The All-SEC performer and Lou Groza finalist is a big kicker with a bigger leg – and a consistent one. The 6-4, 213-pounder blasted a 56-yarder against Louisville in the opener and hit four of his five shots from beyond 50 – only missing a 55-yarder against San Jose State. On the season he connected on 23-of-27 attempts highlighted by a stretch of 16 straight makes over a span of seven games, and he hit 17 of his last 18. A killer on kickoffs, too, just 17 of his 69 kicks were returned. Over the last two seasons, 99 of his 150 kickoffs were touchbacks.
7. CB Jamel Dean, RFr.
The Florida native and Ohio State transfer appears ready to be a dominant force on once side. Carlton Davis is the team’s best corner, but Dean has all-star talent, too, with 6-2, 205-pound size and blazing speed. Smart, athletic, and with the upside to destroy workouts when he’ll someday get to show off for the NFL scouts, he’s got the total package – if his knee can hold up. He was declared medically ineligible by Ohio State and it seemed like his football playing days were done, but he got the Dr. James Andrews treatment, got time to heal, and now he looks ready to rumble. He’ll get picked on with everyone staying away from Davis, but he’ll come up with plenty of big plays.
8. QB John Franklin III, Jr.
Locked hard in a tough battle for the starting quarterback job, JFIII should be the best of all options. He’s only 6-1 and 174 pounds, but he’s got a good, accurate arm with phenomenal quickness and athleticism. It’s asking a lot of anyone to be another Nick Marshall, but he might not be all that far off with the special running skills to – he was a Florida high school state champion-level sprinter. Sean White might end up starting early on, and there’s going to be a fight to see time, but Franklin fits.
9. DT Dontavius Russell, Soph.
The 6-3, 295-pounder had a terrific first season coming up with 42 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. Fantastic in the classroom earning all-star honors, he’s a pounder in the interior of the line with the toughness to be a rock of a run defender while Montravius Adams gets double-teamed. He showed off a little bit as an interior pass rusher, but that’s not his game. He’s going to be an anchor and a leader up front over the next few years even with the veterans around him.
10. Jeremy Johnson, Sr.
The size is there, and he looks the part, and he’s been around long enough to know what he’s doing, but he hasn’t been able to lead the Tiger offense like it needs to be run. The 6-5, 234-pounder hasn’t been miserable, but he didn’t take the gig by the horns last season running for just 137 yards – but six touchdowns – while completing just 60% of his passes for 1,054 yards and ten touchdowns with seven picks during his time. At worst, he’s a veteran backup option who can step in and save the season. At best, it all kicks in and comes together.