Auburn spring questions: Finding Jay Prosch's replacement a necessity

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 14, 2014 

Auburn vs Tennessee

Jay Prosch throws a block for Tre Mason to score Auburn's second touchdown of the first half. Auburn at Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 in Knoxville, TN Todd Van Emst

TODD J. VAN EMST — Todd J. Van Emst

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 fill Jay Prosch's shoes?

This is a topic that has already been covered extensively here and here.

Which should tell you one thing: it's an important spot. For other teams? Not so much. Since Gus Malzahn prefers to run the ball as often as possible, however, owning a physical, hard-nosed lead blocker is critical. Few could have performed better in that role than Prosch did last season.

Long story short, three players are realistically competing for the job: Senior Brandon Fulse and sophomores Gage Batten and Ricky Parks.

Given his responsibilities as the Tigers' backup tight end — where he sits behind the versatile C.J. Uzomah — it seems likely that Fulse will be the first candidate eliminated from the race.

That leaves the sophomore duo of Batten and Parks.

Despite appearing in four games last year, Batten didn't register a single statistic. Then again, neither did Parks, who spent his time at Northeast Mississippi Community College after he was dismissed from Auburn on the first day of fall camp.

With no practices to go on just yet, one would think Batten has a slight edge due to a pair of factors. First, he shares a similar build and mind-set to that of Prosch. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, he knows the offense inside and out.

Yes, he rarely took to the the field last fall, but that's more than can be said of Parks.

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