War Eagle Extra

Why is Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson’s stock on the rise?

Injuries were the only thing that kept Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson from having 1,200 yards last season according to his position coach Tim Horton.

Johnson already sits atop the depth chart alongside Kamryn Pettway, but Horton identified the junior as someone whose “stock has gone up the last three to four months.”

Horton pointed to Johnson’s full participation in the program’s offseason conditioning program as a key factor.

It’s the first time in three years Johnson isn’t dealing with lingering injuries from the football season. Last year, Johnson had shoulder surgery during the offseason, which kept him out of the weight room and off the field for the majority of spring practice.

“Kerryon’s problem the two years he’s been here is that durability aspect,” Horton said. “You are going to get hit a lot (as a SEC running back).”

Time spent in the weight room this spring will help Johnson, who is up to 210 pounds, take those hits a little better.

Johnson had a productive year as a sophomore rushing the ball 182 times for 895 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Madison, Alabama native finished No. 7 in the SEC with 1,287 all-purpose yards, but an ankle injury he suffered on the first drive against Mississippi State plagued him for the rest of the regular season.

Johnson didn’t play in a 56-3 win over Arkansas the following week and spent much of the next two months taking mental reps at practice.

While Auburn had the top rushing attack in the SEC, injuries to Johnson and Pettway prevented the duo from reaching even greater heights.

“If we have a full healthy season, I can't think of what we'll be able to do,” Johnson said at the end of last season. “It's going to be hard to beat him and me as a one-two punch in the SEC and the country. Full healthy, it's scary to think about.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra