Caldwell Column: 2 JD's & Freshmen Reporting

A pair of J.D.'s continue to represent Auburn well while a freshman could be an important player to watch this fall for the Auburn football team. Jason Caldwell writes about those subjects in his latest column.

Dufner Doing It Again

It hasn't been the greatest start to his 2014 season for the former Tiger, but on Sunday there was Jason Dufner once again doing his thing on the PGA Tour. After firing three consecutive rounds in the 60s on the Par 70 Colonial Country Club track, Dufner needed a big final round to have a chance to win at the place called "Hogan's Alley."

A longtime admirer of Ben Hogan, Dufner fired a final round 66 to find himself in a playoff with world number one Adam Scott. Despite coming up just short, Dufner again put himself on the biggest stage of the week in professional golf and in the process moved up to No. 15 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

The PGA Championship winner last year, Dufner has made 10 cuts in his 11 events this season with four Top 10 finishes. A player who turned himself into one of the world's best players after walking on for the Tigers, Dufner is once again setting himself up for a strong run as the weather heats up, just in time for the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C. Pinehurst #2 will be the host site and has some of the toughest greens in the world. With his ability to hit the ball close to the hole in the proper spots, Dufner could be a threat to win his second major in just a few weeks.

Bringing The Rain

Dufner isn't the only former Auburn player doing big things in the professional ranks as former Tigers' standout Josh Donaldson has become a star for the Oakland A's as a third baseman.

Playing the hot corner for at Auburn before moving to catcher, Donaldson was drafted by the Chicago Cubs, but always had a flair for the dramatic while on the Plains. While I always thought he had the talent to make it big, inconsistency was the thing that kept him from breaking through.

Donaldson homers Sunday in Toronto.

That is no longer a problem. Making a run at the American League MVP last season, Donaldson is again coming through for an Oakland team playing very good baseball. Hitting .268, Donaldson has 11 home runs, 11 doubles and 36 RBI this season. He has also reached base safely a team-record 30 consecutive road games. With plenty of baseball still ahead of him Donaldson could be a fixture in the big leagues for years to come.

Help On The Defensive Line

This Memorial Day holiday is quite different for almost two dozen youngsters as it will be their first together on the Auburn campus when they arrive to begin classes on Tuesday. Just about the entire 2014 signing class for the Tigers will get settled in on the Plains today before beginning their work towards their first season in orange and blue.

While players such as Tre Williams and Racean Thomas will get much of the attention and will almost assuredly have an opportunity to get on the field early, other players will also have a chance to make an immediate impact this season. One of those is defensive end Andrew Williams.

A powerful high school player with the size and athletic ability to play early, Williams should benefit greatly from his two months' head start this summer. With veteran LaDarius Owens back as Auburn's most experienced defensive end and Carl Lawson a budding star at the position, Coach Rodney Garner is counting on guys like Elijah Daniel and even Gabe Wright to play a role at the position. With those players and others such as Jeffrey Whitaker and Angelo Blackson to learn from, Williams could be this year's freshman defensive lineman to make noise for the Tigers.

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