Auburn’s much publicized quarterback battle gets underway when the team opens spring practice Feb. 28.
Fans are clamoring to see what Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham can bring to the Plains, but it won’t be the only important position up for grabs.
Here is a look at Auburn’s top position battles this spring…
Contenders: Sean White, Jarrett Stidham, John Franklin III, Woody Barrett, Malik Willis
New Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will decide how the reps are split up this spring, a rotation the team has yet to reveal. White’s forearm injury could leave an opening for younger contenders like Barrett and Willis to make an impression. They are long shots for the starting job, but getting in the mix for one of the primary backup roles could help them see the field in the fall. Stidham is the clear favorite with Lindsey pledging a more diverse passing attack that plays into the transfer’s strength.
Position: Offensive tackle
Contenders: Darius James, Austin Golson, Braden Smith, Prince Tega Wanogho, Prince Michael Sammons, Calvin Ashley, Tyler Carr, Bailey Sharp
Auburn has two holes to fill on the offensive line with tackle Robert Leff and guard Alex Kozan graduating. Leff was one of the team’s top run blockers, starting 15 games at right tackle. Darius James anchored the left side for much of the year, but Austin Golson started the first four games of the season at left tackle. While James is an early favorite to lock down a starting spot, the coaching staff easily could elect to shift him to right tackle. Auburn has plenty of options, including shifting their experienced linemen — Golson and Smith — over to tackle.
Position: Defensive back
Contenders: Javaris Davis, John Broussard Jr., Jamel Dean, Marlon Character, Malcolm Askew
Auburn went through much of fall camp with Jamel Dean and Javaris Davis battling it out to start alongside Carlton Davis at defensive back. Dean suffered an injury, leaving more reps for veteran Josh Holsey, who emerged as the team’s most consistent player in the secondary. Davis will be back in the mix alongside a group of younger, inexperienced backs including Marlon Character. The Atlanta native impressed coaches redshirting this season and was identified as one of the standout players during early bowl practices. Dean, who has a lengthy injury history, remains a question mark.
Position: Defensive tackle
Contenders: Derrick Brown, Andrew Williams, Jaunta'vius Johnson, Antwuan Jackson, Nick Coe
One of Auburn’s biggest challenges on the defensive side of the ball this spring will be replacing Montravius Adams. Williams had a surprisingly productive season last year while Brown earned a spot in the rotation as a true freshman. With defensive line coach Rodney Garner preferring a deep rotation, the backup will still see plenty of playing time, but Auburn needs an impact player to emerge in the wake of Adams’ departure.
Position: Wide receiver
Contenders: Ryan Davis, Eli Stove, Kyle Davis, Nate Craig-Myers, Darius Slayton, Jason Smith
Auburn has some of the best athletes in the conference at wide receiver, but the program has struggled developing impact players at the position the last two years. Sean White’s top target was Tony Stevens early in the year, but true freshman Eli Stove emerged as Auburn’s most consistent receiver late in the year. Kyle Davis flashed his skill set — making a memorable one-handed grab against Arkansas St. — but Auburn’s young receivers struggled to consistently make an impact. The competition at the position should be wide open as Lindsey overhauls the passing game.