Losing that role in a battle with Tre Mason a year ago, the powerful Artis-Payne said this time around he feels more confident in his abilities and the offense as he tries to win the job over senior Corey Grant and freshmen Peyton Barber and Roc Thomas.
His first chance to take over will be this Saturday when Auburn faces off against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the season opener at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Listed as a co-starter with Grant, Artis-Payne said he is eager to get things going after a strong summer and preseason for the team.
“I think we are ready to play well this year,” he said. “We have been preparing, working on our offense, just working on the little things trying to be perfect if we can. That is what we have been working on.”
Working is something Artis-Payne has done since getting to Auburn from Allan Hancock College, a junior college in California where he ran for a school record of more 2,000 yards as a sophomore. Rushing for 610 yards and six touchdowns last season in mostly a reserve role, he said that he is ready to take on a much larger role if needed.
“I don’t want to say I changed my game too much,” Artis-Payne said. “I mean, I look at back when I was getting recruited, I did it all.
“I mean you always got to believe in yourself so I believe I can be the guy, but I mean that’s up the coaching staff and what they feel is working and being effective," he added. "At the end of the day it’s about the team, not just one individual player.”
Heading into his second season in Gus Malzahn’s offense, Artis-Payne pointed out that comfort level has been big for him this preseason to get him prepared for his increased role in 2014. Now ready for his shot he predicts the entire offense is ready to take things to another level.
“It’s helped tremendously,” he said. “We are a lot further along just in the execution phase (than) where we were last year. I mean, it’s just being comfortable and being aware of your surroundings and knowing what’s coming next. It helps a lot.”