Editor's note: Auburn's spring practice starts March 18. Some positions are set in stone. Some are up for grabs. Auburn beat writer Ryan Black has already evaluated all the personnel groupings on the team (which you can find here), but now he's paring that down even further to account for every individual position, projecting how the depth chart will look when the Tigers get back on the field for the first time since the BCS championship game. The series continues with the left guards.
Who's Who:Alex Kozan, sophomore: Started all 14 games at left guard last year; named to the SEC's All-Freshman team by league coaches
Devonte Danzey, junior: Appeared in three games (Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic and Tennessee) last year
Deon Mix, redshirt freshman: Redshirted during 2013 season
Projected depth chart:
Analysis: What can Kozan do for an encore? It's a fair question.
It will be hard to top last season, as the Colorado native started every game at left guard for the Tigers. And plenty of folks not affiliated with Auburn took note of how well he played. The SEC's coaches named him to the All-Freshman team last year; the Football Writers Association of America went a step further, placing Kozan on their freshman All-America team.
So who will back him up? At the outset of the spring, at least, it will be Danzey, who was also Kozan's backup last season. Last spring, he battled Kozan and Jordan Diamond for the starting job, with Kozan finally distancing himself during fall camp to end the competition.
Diamond eventually flipped to the opposite side of the line, settling in at No. 2 on the right guard depth chart behind Chad Slade. But Diamond won't have a chance to make up much ground on either guard position this spring. The rising third-year sophomore underwent surgery on his knee after the BCS championship game, and judging by Gus Malzahn's comments recently, won't be able to do much when spring practice begins in two weeks.
"That was a carryover from the year and we just felt like it was important to go ahead and do that now, so he could be healthy for summer and healthy for the season," the coach said of Diamond's surgery. "He battled through the (2013) season not at 100 percent."
Even if he's cleared to participate this spring, Malzahn has said Diamond will be limited to no contact.
Finally, there's Mix, a redshirt freshman. With no hope of supplanting Kozan as the starter, the South Panola (Miss.) High School product should focus on trying to move past Danzey on the depth chart. Then again, with Diamond unable to do much for the time being, Mix could end up serving as Slade's backup this spring.