AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn might return most of its starters from the 2013 SEC championship squad, but that likely won't stop the Tigers from dipping into their talented 2014 recruiting class this fall.
Of all the true freshmen on the Auburn roster, linebacker Tre’ Williams received the strongest endorsement for early playing time Sunday night from defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.
“If I graded (Williams) out, he's probably about the fourth-best linebacker I've got,” Johnson said. “The other three in front of him have played in SEC football games before, so until things kind of get flowing and we get into the game, I'm going to make sure he knows what's going on out there before I put a true freshman in that environment.”
Williams was a 5-star middle linebacker recruit out of high school, but Johnson said Williams is now practicing at weakside linebacker.
According to Johnson, Williams had a “better camp” than the other linebackers fighting for playing time behind juniors Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost.
“Tre’ had two really good scrimmages, very good production picking up the scheme pretty quickly,” Johnson said. “He just seemed real comfortable out there.”
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee mentioned a trio of true freshmen as players who could potentially crack the rotation against the Razorbacks on Saturday.
“Braden Smith’s a guy that you never know, could see action,” Lashlee said Sunday night. “Roc (Thomas), Stanton Truitt, all those guys have done a good job. They’re all going to be available because the good thing is having a home game (where) you can dress more guys.”
Lashlee said he feels good about playing both Thomas and redshirt freshman Peyton Barber at running back in the season opener.
The speedy Truitt has received practice reps at slot receiver and punt returner, while Smith is expected to back up sophomore Shon Coleman at left tackle.