War Eagle Extra

Auburn spring position battles: Defensive tackle

Auburn players competing for one of the starting spots on the defensive line include (from left to right) Andrew Williams, Antwuan Jackson and Derrick Brown.
Auburn players competing for one of the starting spots on the defensive line include (from left to right) Andrew Williams, Antwuan Jackson and Derrick Brown. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.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 tackle

Contenders: Derrick Brown, Andrew Williams, Jaunta'vius Johnson, Antwuan Jackson

One of Auburn’s biggest challenges on the defensive side of the ball this spring will be replacing Montravius Adams.

Andrew Williams had a surprisingly productive season last year (2.5 sacks) while Derrick Brown earned a spot in the rotation as a true freshman, but neither is at Adams level quite yet.

There’s no denying Brown has tremendous upside with his teammates taking note of the 6-foot-5, 330-pounder’s athleticism when he played defensive end late in the year.

“Man, you know what? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. He’s so athletic,” Auburn linebacker Tre’ Williams said of Brown playing defensive end. “The fact that he’s that big playing on the edge rushing like that? I don’t think I’ve seen that with my own eyes before. That’s something that can really help us.”

Antwuan Jackson could jump into the mix after a redshirting last season.

The early enrollee was overshadowed by the other high profile defensive lineman in Auburn’s 2016 class, but could be ready to jump into the mix after a full year on campus.

“I think he can (help next year),” Montravius Adams said at the end of the season. “He’s still a young guy. He has to get better at taking coaching.”

A shot at a regular role on the line could help Jackson “grow up.”

Jaunta’vius Johnson is a bit of a wildcard in the competition having missed all of last season with a knee injury. He redshirted as a true freshman while rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered as a senior in high school.

Johnson has the size to eat up space in the middle, but with such a long layoff between reps in a competitive situation it would be asking a lot for the defensive lineman to make an impact right out of the gate in 2017.

While Auburn needs an impact player to emerge in the wake of Adams’ departure, everyone competing for playing time should see the field with defensive line coach Rodney Garner preferring a deep rotation.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

  Comments