Auburn spring questions: Tigers seek clarity at punt return

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 10, 2014 

ROBIN TRIMARCHI rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Auburn wide receiver Quan Bray is just one of the numerous candidates that could replace Chris Davis as the team's primary punt returner.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

Auburn's spring practice starts March 18. But as with any team, the Tigers have questions they'll try to answer in various areas. In that vein, beat writer Ryan Black has come up with 10 queries, looking at position battles, individual players and everything in between. The series begins with the Tigers' return game.

Who will the Tigers trot out to return punts?

The 2013 Iron Bowl will never be forgotten.

A crazy, improbable game-winning final play of the game made sure of that. But the man in the center of it all, Chris Davis is gone. And that leaves Auburn with a giant question mark: Who will return punts now? Even before he went down in Iron Bowl lore, Davis had shown his playmaking ability all season, averaging 18.7 yards per return, which was third-best in Division I. (Don't forget about his 85-yard return for a touchdown against Tennessee, either.)

The problem isn't that Davis was the team's sole punt returner; it's that the others who did so last season don't inspire much confidence. Quan Bray had a difficult go of it, as he had 12 returns for a mere 61 yards. Fellow receivers Marcus Davis and Trovon Reed also returned punts last year, but their sample size isn't large enough to make any solid judgments.

Aside from those three, the Tigers also worked Tony Stevens and Johnathan Ford into the rotation during fall camp last year.

Any one of these players could win the job. Heck, the coaching staff probably has others it plans to give a shot no one even knows about yet.

Keep an eye out for this name: Stanton Truitt. The early enrollee is a top-flight speedster and has a knack for making things happen when the ball is in his hands — just like a certain No. 11 last year.

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