War Eagle Extra

Auburn assistant coach Tim Horton gives Jovon Robinson edge in competition at running back

Auburn running back Jovon Robinson warms up before the team's spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, April 9, 2016.
Auburn running back Jovon Robinson warms up before the team's spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, April 9, 2016. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn isn’t ready to name a starter at running back going into its summer workouts, but position coach Tim Horton painted the clearest picture yet of where the competition stands.

“Y’all can read between the lines,” Horton said with a smile.

Before speaking at alumni club event at Roma Mia in Rome, Georgia, on Monday night, the assistant coach started off a discussion about the Tigers depth at running back with praise for one of the contenders.

“Jovon Robinson really had a nice spring,” Horton said. “He kind of elevated himself going into fall camp. He’s in a good position.”

During spring camp, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee described the battle between Robinson and Roc Thomas as one of the better competitions for playing time on the offense. Lashlee wants to continue evaluating the backs and hold off naming a starter until the team’s opener against Clemson.

Horton agreed with the timeline, but made it sound like the competition is further along than Lashlee let on.

“One thing you always want to do as a coach is we need to make sure they have the right maturity through the summer and the right work ethic through the summer,” Horton said. “So sometimes I think when coaches wait to name starters, they want to make sure that, hey, this kid can handle what role we’re fixing to give to him. I don’t think those roles will be defined until a couple of weeks before the Clemson game.”

Robinson opened camp ready to build on his performance late last season. The junior college transfer capped off an impressive six-game stretch with MVP honors in the Birmingham Bowl, carrying the ball 27 times for 126 yards and a touchdown in a 31-10 win over Memphis.

At the start of camp, Robinson laid out clear goals for his senior season.

“I have high goals and high expectations for myself,” Robinson said. “I want to be the next 1,000-yard rusher. I like that title. I’m definitely looking forward to starting off the season right, playing Clemson, starting off the season on a high note.”

Robinson description of himself as a “workhorse type of guy” isn’t one Horton disagrees with. Robinson’s size and physical style puts him in the same camp as Auburn’s previous top backs.

“I think that’s a storyline gets played out year by year, but because of Jovon’s physicalness and size that he is, body type that he is, I think he’s a guy on our team that could do that where as someone like KJ, I don’t know KJ could last with 30 carries over a course of a three or four week period,” Horton said. “I don’t know if his body could handle that. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, but I think Jovon is one that can handle it.”