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Auburn spring position battles: Defensive back

Auburn players competing this spring at defensive back include (from left to right) Javaris Davis, John Broussard Jr., Malcolm Askew and Jamel Dean.
Auburn players competing this spring at defensive back include (from left to right) Javaris Davis, John Broussard Jr., Malcolm Askew and Jamel Dean. mniziolek@ledger-enuqirer.com

Auburn’s impending quarterback battle is an important one, but the team has other positions up for grabs when spring practice starts Feb. 28.

Here is a look at Auburn’s top position battles this spring…

Position: Defensive back

Contenders: Javaris Davis, John Broussard Jr., Jamel Dean, Marlon Character, Malcolm Askew

Auburn went through much of fall camp last year with Jamel Dean and Javaris Davis battling it out to start alongside Carlton Davis at defensive back. Dean suffered a significant knee injury leaving more reps for veteran defender Josh Holsey, who emerged as the team’s most consistent player in the secondary.

Holsey may have overshadowed the younger Davis, but the redshirt freshman still played a significant number of snaps. He finished the season with seven pass breakups and impressed teammates with his physical style at 5-foot-10, 182-pounds.

“When he's really healthy, I have a lot of confidence in him and he has a lot of confidence in himself -- as you can see when he plays,” Auburn linebacker Tre’ Williams said. “As small as he is, he'll come up and hit anybody. I love it.”

Davis will be in the mix alongside a group of younger, inexperienced defensive backs including Marlon Character.

The Atlanta native impressed coaches redshirting this season. Upper classmen identified Character as one of the standouts in the secondary during early practices for the Sugar Bowl.

Dean, who was seen participating in light work during Auburn’s practices in New Orleans, remains a question mark. The Tigers were cautious with bringing Dean back at the end of the season given the defensive back’s lengthy injury history.

New secondary coach Greg Brown could take a look at alternative options by shifting personnel around. The group includes a number of versatile players that play safety, but have repped at defensive back including Stephen Roberts.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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