Led by big-play man Sammie Coates, the Tigers have a large and talented group of receivers to work with in the spring including a pair of possible impact newcomers.
Coming off a monster sophomore season, Coates is set to become one of the top receivers in the nation in 2014. To get to that level he needs to continue the development that helped him to a 42-catch season when he totaled 902 yards and seven touchdowns. For a team that threw for just 2,422 yards for the entire season, Coates' total shows his consistency and ability to get open down the field.
He's far from the only returning weapon for the Tigers, however, as Ricardo Louis is back following an up-and-down sophomore campaign. Second on the team with 28 catches for 328 yards and two scores, Louis is best remembered for his game winner against the Georgia Bulldogs, but he showed the ability to be a big-play threat throughout the year. If he can improve his hands and become a more dependable receiver, Louis has the size and speed to be a dominant second option for the Auburn offense.
Ricardo Louis will be a junior this fall.
At the inside receiver spots the Tigers have a pair of viable options returning in senior Quan Bray and sophomore Marcus Davis. Tied for third on the team last season with 23 receptions each, they bring a little something different to the table and form a good combination.
A solid runner after the catch, Bray finished with 195 yards and three touchdowns in 2013. Showing the toughness to go across the middle and make the catch, Davis was one of the biggest surprises for the Tigers on offense last fall. Totaling 217 yards and a touchdown, he made a huge grab against Texas A&M late in the game to help the Tigers get a huge road win.
Teammates at Evans High in Orlando, Tony Stevens and Dominic Walker are both poised to make a run at more playing time this spring. Playing sparingly last season, mostly early, Stevens caught five passes for 68 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman. Now more physical and better prepared for what he will face in the SEC, Stevens could be the big mover when the Tigers hit the field next week. Already a physical receiver, Walker will need to come out making plays if he wants to get into an already stacked rotation.
A player who could continue to get a look at wide receiver, but may get a shot to play cornerback this spring is Trovon Reed. One of the veterans on offense for the Tigers, Reed caught just nine passes for 98 yards and wasn't heavily involved in the offense for much of the second half of the season. If he makes the move it should open the door for Melvin Ray to get even more involved. A mismatch for defenses because of his size and speed, Ray caught five passes for 108 yards and a touchdown last season. That included a 50-yard touchdown catch in the national championship game against Florida State.
Melvin Ray is a former pro baseball player.
With senior Jaylon Denson expected to sit out the spring while recovering from knee surgery, two players who will benefit greatly from the extra opportunities are newcomers D'haquille Williams and Stanton Truitt.
The number one ranked junior college wide receiver in the country, Williams brings a blend of raw power, speed and great hands to the position out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The classic number one receiver because of his all-around talent, Williams must work quickly to jump into a deep Auburn rotation at the position but has the talent to do just that.
A high school quarterback, Truitt will have to learn the ins and outs of playing wide receiver, but much like Davis he should be able to make a smooth transition. Getting an early start in the spring could be just the thing that pushes him over the top and onto the field early in his career.
Auburn will start spring practice on Tuesday with the A-Day game set for April 19 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.