Auburn Football Newcomers to Watch: No. 12

This series features Auburn football players who are expected to make their college debuts this fall with good chances to be significant contributors for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Coming in at No. 12 on our list of Auburn football players who have a chance to make an impact in their first season of collegiate game action is running back Mike Blakely.

After more than a year and a half wait to carry the football in a real game, the former U.S. Army All-American from Manatee High in Bradenton, Fla., is expected to push for playing time this fall.

An early high school graduate in December of 2010, Blakely enrolled at the University of Florida the following month and participated in spring practice with the Gators. However, he opted for a change of venue soon after he arrived in Gainesville.

Blakely considered several colleges before deciding on Auburn, a program that had heavily recruited him going back to his junior season in high school when he earned All-State honors by rushing for 1,400 yards. The tailback scored 23 touchdowns that season and showed good hands as a receiver, adding 327 yards in receptions.

Blakely got off to an even better start as a senior, but missed six games with an ankle injury. He still managed to rush for more than 1,000 yards again and scored 19 touchdowns. rated him the No. 10 running back prospect in the country for the 2011 signee class as he signed with the Gators despite having what he said was a good relationship with Auburn running backs Curtis Luper, who is finally getting to coach the talented tailback.

Currently standing five-foot-nine and weighing 206 pounds, with his performance in spring practice Blakely put himself in the mix for playing time this fall, which will be his redshirt freshman season.

He is one of five tailbacks who will be trying to emerge as the starter for Coach Gene Chizik's Tigers, taking the role held last year by All-SEC sophomore Michael Dyer, who transferred to Arkansas State after being suspended for Auburn's bowl game vs. Virginia.

Blakely is shown in action during spring practice.

This year's group of Tiger tailbacks includes senior Onterio McCalebb, sophomore Tre Mason, redshirt sophomore transfer Corey Grant and incoming freshman Jovon Robinson, who like Blakely was a U.S. Army All-American.

Chizik said he isn't sure who will emerge as the starter from that group, but noted that Blakely is certainly in the mix. In Auburn's spring football game he was the leading rusher with 65 yards on five carries, including a run of 25 yards for one of two touchdowns scored in the game. However, Chizik said that looking at the big picture with the talented young back he needs to improve his consistency as a runner, receiver and blocker.

If Blakely does what his head coach wants he should be in line for a significant amount of playing time this fall with his ability to make tacklers miss and move the chains with a football in his arms.

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