The most experienced player returning at offensive tackle for the Tigers is sophomore Avery Young. Starting three games as a true freshman before injuries cut short his 2012 season, Young took over for Patrick Miller against Western Carolina and started the final nine games of the year for the SEC champs. At 6-6, 315, Young is just coming into his own as a tackle but has the skills to play guard as well if needed, something he did some of during spring practice.
Splitting time as the starter at right tackle the last two seasons with Young, the 6-7, 289 Miller started nine games as a true freshman and started the first five games of the 2014 season. Working at both right and left tackle in the spring, Miller is definitely in the running to be a starter this year. Improving as a physical run blocker, Miller’s athleticism makes him a player with a tremendous amount of upside at the position.
Locked in a battle with Miller on the left side during the spring was redshirt sophomore Shon Coleman. Coming back strong after a battle with leukemia, the 6-6, 310 Coleman was impressive throughout the spring and could be the favorite to win the starting job for the season opener against Arkansas on Aug. 30. Getting some quality back-up time last season while also working as an extra tight end, Coleman’s strength in the run game and improving pass blocking skills may make it tough to keep him off the field.
Playing in all 14 games last season in his role as a punt protector on special teams, 6-6, 286 sophomore Robert Leff had a good spring and should be a solid option as Auburn’s fourth offensive tackle when the Tigers open preseason camp. A very good athlete, Leff has improved his strength and technique and was one of the surprises of the spring on the offensive line. Also a solid option is fellow sophomore Will Adams. The 6-7, 296-pounder played in all but one game last season on special teams and like Leff has improved his size and strength.
The wildcard of the group may be true freshman Braden Smith, a mountain of a young man from Kansas. Already 6-6 and right at 300 pounds, Smith may already have the title of strongest man on the team and is definitely an imposing figure on and off the field. Impressing his teammates in summer workouts with his quickness and athletic ability, Smith could be an option at one of the tackle spots but has all the tools to get on the field early at guard if needed.
Shon Coleman and Braden Smith