Auburn football: Projecting the Tigers' post-spring running back depth chart

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comApril 26, 2014 

ROBIN TRIMARCHI Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn watches the game on the field behind his offense during the A Game Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, with running back Corey Grant (20) in the foreground.


Editor's note: Auburn's spring practice concluded with the A-Day game April 19. Some positions didn't change. Some had upheaval. With that in mind, Auburn beat writer Ryan Black will give his position-by-position of the entire depth chart as the Tigers head into the summer. The series continues with the running backs.

Who's Who:

Corey Grant, senior: 66 carries, 647 yards (9.8 ypc), six touchdowns

Cameron Artis-Payne, senior: 91 carries, 610 yards (6.7 ypc), six TDs

Johnathan Ford, sophomore: Six carries, 73 yards (12.2 ypc) TD

Peyton Barber, redshirt freshman: No stats; redshirted in 2013

Pre-spring projection:

1. Grant

1a. Artis-Payne

3. Barber

4. Ford

Post-spring projection:

1. Grant

1a. Artis-Payne

3. Barber

Analysis: People hoping to see Tre Mason's successor appointed this spring will have to continue waiting.

About the only thing accomplished at the spot during spring practice was trimming the depth chart. Ford, who hoped to move back to offense this season, instead shifted to safety. That allowed Barber to get even more reps with the second, and at times, first-team offense. A redshirt freshman, he was expected to play a major part in last Saturday's A-Day game. His outing was brief, however, as he injured his leg on his first carry and didn't return. Afterward, coach Gus Malzahn said he didn't believe Barber would be out long.

With no update provided in the past week, we'll have to take Malzahn at his word.

Grant and Artis-Payne, meanwhile, appear destined to enter fall camp deadlocked atop the two-deep. The senior duo both took care of business during the spring game. Artis-Payne had a workmanlike 12 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown. Grant was a tad more spectacular, with five rushes for 128 yards and a touchdown, good for an average of 25.6 yards per carry.

If forced to choose one, it says here that Artis-Payne will be in the starting lineup when Auburn takes on Arkansas in the season opener Aug. 30 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

However, the fact no running back separated himself from the other candidates could work into the hands of the highly-touted freshmen duo of Racean Thomas and Kamryn Pettway, who will be given a chance to win the job when they arrive this fall.

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