One thing that is a sure bet is that senior Jonathon Mincy (5-10, 196) will be a major part of Auburn's defense this season as long as he stays healthy. Developing into a leader for the Tigers, Mincy finished off his junior season with perhaps his best career game in the loss to Florida State. For the year he made 56 tackles and was second on the team with 14 pass break-ups, one behind Davis. Durable and reliable, Mincy is poised to have his breakout season as a senior.
Mincy has turned into one of the leaders for the Tigers
Challenging Mincy for playing time is speedy junior Jonathan Jones. Playing through injuries each of his first two seasons, the 5-10, 182 Jones looked good in the spring and has the athletic ability to be a true cover corner for the Tigers. Last season he had 11 total tackles in nine games after coming back from a broken foot early in the year.
One of the wildcards for Auburn at the position is former wide receiver Trovon Reed (6-0, 190). A big-time athlete, Reed made the transition to cornerback soon after the loss to Florida State. Going to Gus Malzahn and requesting a move to help out a position in need, Reed showed good ball skills in the spring and was especially strong in man-coverage. With the size that Smith covets at the position and a football mind from playing offense the last four years, Reed's move strengthens the position a great deal.
Another wildcard is junior Josh Holsey. A starter at safety the first six games of the season before injuring his knee prior to the Texas A&M game, the 5-10, 192 Holsey could return to safety this season but the emergence of Derrick Moncrief could allow him to return to cornerback. In an effort to get the best four players on the field in the secondary that could mean Holsey returning to the position he played as a freshman. One thing is certain, however, and that is Holsey will be on the field somewhere when the Tigers open the season against Arkansas.
Holsey has the skills to return to cornerback if needed
Additional depth comes from sophomore T.J. Davis (6-1, 196) as well as redshirt freshman Kamryn Melton (5-10, 182). Mostly a special teams player last season, Davis improved over the course of bowl practices and carried that over into the spring. Banged up early in his freshman year, Melton has gained strength but must continue to get stronger to be ready to compete every down in the SEC.
Coming from the high school ranks, Nick Ruffin (6-0, 195) and Kalvaraz Bessent (6-0, 170) will challenge to get into the playing rotation along with junior college transfer Joseph Turner. More experienced and older, Turner (6-2, 185) has a long frame but needs to work on his physicality to be ready when his name is called this fall. That's where Ruffin should have an advantage. Already close to 200 pounds, Ruffin has worked hard to be ready physically and if he can pick up the defense quickly he could be the immediate help the Tigers need this fall.
Nick Ruffin has improved his body a great deal since last season at St. Pius X in Atlanta