Early Start For Majority Of Signing Class

All but two of Auburn's football signees are already on campus getting ready for the 2014 season.

Auburn, Ala.--Getting incoming football players on campus early is one of the keys to getting early help out of a signing class. That should be great news for Coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers with all but two members of the 2014 class on campus and starting classes Tuesday.

Playing a large group of freshmen and newcomers last fall for a team that won the SEC Championship, Malzahn has already shown he is not afraid to play anyone that can help his team win and that should be the case again this fall.

With much of the class now on campus it's time to take a look at some of the candidates and positions that could see early playing time this fall.

Defensive Line Depth

With the news that Davonte Lambert made his grades and enrolled for the first summer session, it means Coach Rodney Garner will have several players in who could have a chance at early playing time. Lambert is perhaps the surest bet coming out of junior college because of his maturity and combination of size and quickness, but Dontavius Russell inside along with Andrew Williams and Raashed Kennion at end makes for a talented group.

Still expected to make their grades and arrive in Auburn later this summer, junior college defensive lineman Devaroe Lawrence and Vigor standout Justin Thornton are the only two signees not enrolled yet.

Secondary Strength

Already with junior college transfer Derrick Moncrief on campus for spring practice, getting the rest of a talented secondary in early in the summer is big news for Coordinator Ellis Johnson and coaches Melvin Smith and Charlie Harbison. Moving Trovon Reed to cornerback in the spring helped with some of the depth concerns at the position but the additions of Nick Ruffin, Kalvaraz Bessent and Joseph Turner should make for great competition at corner this fall.

All three should have an opportunity to get their feet wet this summer as should safety Stephen Roberts. A cornerback for much of his last two seasons at Opelika, Roberts is the coverage safety needed to face high-octane offenses, but is also physical enough to stop the run. The wildcard is big Markell Boston. A late addition to the class, Boston blossomed as a senior when he was moved to defense and will try to keep his momentum going as a freshman.

Big 'Backers

Getting quality play out of the linebackers in spring practice was important for Johnson, but there is no question that newcomers Tre Williams and DeShaun Davis will push the guys in front of them from the time they step on campus. While Williams is well-known and has the tools to play early and often in his Auburn career, Davis is one of the most overlooked of the signees in the 2014 class. Back to full strength after missing his senior season because of a knee injury, Davis is a physical linebacker with very good instincts. Getting an early start could be just the thing to push these two good friends into a role on the defense this season.

Backfield In Motion

With Auburn's quarterback situation in great shape, incoming freshman Shaun White isn't expected to have to be ready to play this fall, but getting an early start on his college experience will have the high school All-American ready if needed. That's not the case with Racean Thomas however as his skills and the loss of Tre Mason means playing time is available at running back. Expect "Roc" to get plenty of chances to show what he can do between now and the season opener against Arkansas. Fellow freshman back Kamryn Pettway is a talented runner but his physical nature may get him on the field as a blocker first.

The Duke

While Auburn's wide receiver group is loaded with talent and depth this fall, there is one newcomer who has already cemented his place in the rotation this fall. Entering in time for spring, D'haquille Williams should be one of the keys to Auburn's passing game this fall.

Also in for the spring, speedy Stanton Truitt showed his skills but may have a hard time cracking into the lineup in his first season. The same is true of Myron Burton, who starts classes at Auburn this week.

Wait 'Til Next Year?

Even though junior college transfer Xavier Dampeer could play a big role this season as Reese Dismukes' backup at center, Auburn's need for help on the offensive line and at tight end is minimal. With six proven players returning for Coach J.B. Grimes up front it's going to be tough for incoming freshman Braden Smith to make a jump into the playing rotation this fall, but getting in early could allow him to make a push for a number two spot at one of the guard positions.

With seniors Brandon Fulse and C.J. Uzomah back, Auburn is in good shape at tight end, but things got a little more interesting when Ricky Parks didn't make his grades in the spring. Taking away another big body means the opportunity could be there for either Chris Laye or Jakell Mitchell to earn some playing time this fall. More of a true tight end, Laye went through spring practice and has a big head start on getting on the field.

Coming off a knee injury that caused him to miss his senior season, Mitchell is more of a receiving threat, but isn't scared to get physical. One of the better athletes in the class, Mitchell is the type of player who could catch the eye of Malzahn if things fall into place.

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