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They Said It: Auburn coaches and players on Kerryon Johnson

Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson warms up before a game against Idaho last season at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson warms up before a game against Idaho last season at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson expected to have a similar role this fall to the one he had last year.

The plan was to have the elusive sophomore return kicks, run the wildcat formation, work out of the slot and carry the ball when needed.

When Auburn coach Gus Malzahn dismissed Jovon Robinson from the team Wednesday, it elevated Johnson to the top of the depth chart. The sudden spotlight has made Johnson a major topic for Auburn coaches and players.

Here is what they are saying…

All the tools

On Kerryon’s skill set…

“I think he brings special athleticism there. He’s not a huge guy, but he can jump, run and pretty much do everything that’s required of a running back. He can catch, he can run, make the cuts, make people miss in the open field and we saw at Arkansas he can even hurdle people. He’s got it all tool wise.”

On Kerryon’s upside…

I think he could be one of the best in the SEC. He proved last year that he's elusive and stuff. Like I said, he wasn't here this spring, but I have a lot of confidence in him. I think he'll do great for us this year.

Marquee back

On Kerryon being an every-down back…

“We're very confident in him. He's put on about 20 pounds. He's a guy that we've recruited to be a marquee back. He's got a great opportunity now. He's in a good spot. Pettway is in a good spot too.”

On Kerryon carrying extra weight this season…

“He’s stronger. He’s put on a lot of muscle. He’s still just as quick. Anytime you’re a true freshman, that first full year really helps. Even though he didn’t go through spring, he was still able to train. He’s got a year under his belt of knowing what’s going on, and he’s just a more confident player.”

Versatililty

On Kerryon returning kicks this season…

“You think about Tre Mason. He returned kickoffs for us. Kerryon Johnson was one of the better kickoff guys in our league last year, along with Rudy Ford. We still expect him to do that.”

On Kerryon keeping his slot receiver role…

“We’ll see once we get a little closer to game planning. We have a lot of different options. He has versatility that we could put him out there at times, too. We still have a lot of things we can do.”

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