Auburn defensive back John Broussard isn’t going to spend the season on the sidelines adjusting to life as a Division 1 football player.
The Central alum was one of three true freshmen on his side of the ball to make the team’s two-deep depth chart released Tuesday, and the coaching staff plans on using Broussard when it opens the season against Clemson Saturday.
“He can give us some depth back there,” coach Gus Malzahn said this week. “He’s gotten better each practice.”
Auburn’s depth at defensive back took a hit when Jamel Dean went down in training camp with a significant knee injury. Javaris Davis will step into the starting lineup for Dean, but his backup Joshua Holsey is expected to contribute at multiple positions including nickel.
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Broussard is listed as Carlton Davis backup, and the only true defensive back in the secondary not listed as a starter.
“He’s got all the tools, got the size and he’s been there almost a year,” Central coach Jamey DuBose said of his former player. “It’s like a normal freshman that’s been there for two weeks.”
Broussard started impressing coaches the minute he stepped on campus at midyear as one of Auburn’s nine freshmen early enrollees.
New secondary coach Wes McGriff worried a little bit Broussard’s lack of size in the spring — he’s listed at 5-foot-11, 168-pounds — but thought the defensive back had the talent to contribute right away.
“I’m really excited to see how he’s going to play when he gets a couple of pecan seasons in him,” McGriff said. “He’s got the skill set, but the best thing about a young man like that his arrow is definitely going up.”
Broussard’s technique and ability to pick up Auburn’s defensive playbook also impressed his teammates.
“You can tell he’s been coached up well in high school,” Holsey said.
While Holsey tried to spread the credit around, DuBose put it all on Broussard’s shoulders. DuBose arrived at Central for Broussard’s junior season in 2014 and the defensive back already establishing himself as a top prospect.
“He always had his head on his shoulders,” DuBose said.
DuBose, who has a long history of coaching Division 1 players, didn’t see how Broussard would benefit from being brought along slowly. Some players need a redshirt year to mature and adjust, but Broussard is ready for the bright lights at Jordan-Hare Stadium today.
“I know he doesn’t want to stay on the sidelines,” Dubose said, laughing. “Some guys the best thing for them is to have that growth process before they jump into the fire. He’s already accustomed to things. He’s ready. ”
DuBose plans on being in the stands at Jordan-Hare Stadium to cheer his former player on. DuBose has a number of connections to Auburn having coached Austin Golson and Kamryn Pettway at Prattville, Kerryon Johnson in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game and Broussard.
“I’ll be cheering them all on,” Dubose said.