Biggest Need Area On Offense: Running Back
Auburn has done a good job offensively of filling need areas at quarterback and wide receiver. Even though the Tigers would like to add another receiver to the mix, there is little question the biggest need area comes at the running back position.
Despite the return of 1,000-yard rusher Tre Mason for his junior season, there is precious little proven depth for the Tigers at the position. Auburn has added junior college runner Cameron Artis-Payne in time for spring practice and that should help bolster the position, but finding a replacement for speed back Onterio McCalebb is the biggest need at the moment.
A key component to Malzahn's offense is a back who can handle the speed sweep duties and also catch the ball out of the backfield. Auburn fans know about the rushing stats of Ben Tate, Cam Newton and Michael Dyer during Malzahn's three years as offensive coordinator, but in those same three seasons McCalebb ran for 2,016 yards on just 312 carries and scored 18 touchdowns. He also added 45 receptions for 488 yards and three touchdowns during that time.
Without a true fit for the position currently on the roster, the Tigers are hoping to fill that need on the recruiting trail. One of the players who could be a fit is Cornelius Elder from Ensworth High in Nashville, Tenn. A four-star back, the 5-10, 165-pounder has very good speed and the shiftiness to make him a threat in Malzahn's system.
As a senior he ran for 2,618 yards and scored 39 touchdowns. If Auburn can get him to visit one of the last two weekends the Tigers might have a shot, but with Ohio State and UCLA high on his list and Georgia Tech and Ole Miss scheduled for his final two visits it might be tough to pull this one off at the last minute for the Tigers.
Biggest Need Area On Defense: Linebacker
Auburn already has Cameron Toney from Huntsville High on board in this class, but looking for a punishing middle linebacker is a point of emphasis for the Tigers moving forward with only senior Jake Holland and sophomore Cassanova McKinzy at the position heading into spring practice.
While guys like Kenny Flowers and Zach Cunningham remain on the board for outside linebacker spots, there is no question that Reuben Foster is a point of emphasis for Malzahn and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson down the stretch as they look to solidify the middle of the defense.
The nation's top-rated linebacker prospect, the 6-1, 235 Foster was the Defensive MVP at the Under Armour All-American Game and was the Alabama Class 6A Lineman of the Year in 2012 following a strong senior season at Auburn High School. Perhaps the top short yardage back in the state as well, Foster's athleticism shines through when you watch him play on the field.
It's not just his play on the field that makes Foster an important recruit for the Tigers, it's his leadership qualities as well. When he was committed to Auburn he was like the pied piper as he helped spread the word about the program far and wide. Getting him back on board could help give this recruiting class the strong finish Malzahn and the staff is looking for down the stretch.