Auburn Position Preview: Tight End/H-Back

We continue our look at the 2015 Auburn football Tigers with a breakdown of the tight end/H-Back position in preseason practice.

Auburn, Ala.--The loss of fullback Jay Prosch was one of the biggest blows for the 2014 Auburn Tigers and with both C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Fulse now gone this year’s offense has big shoes to fill at the tight end/H-Back spot. With no experience returning and very little depth, Coach Scott Fountain will count on two fullback-types to get the job done.

Signing with Auburn as a running back out of Prattville High School in the 2014 class, Kamryn Pettway gave it a shot at the position last fall before making the move to fullback during bowl practices. Blocking was never a problem for Pettway in high school and he carried that over to his new role very easily. Checking in at 6-0, 242, Pettway is a mix between Eric Smith and Prosch, something that should be a good fit in Gus Malzahn’s offense.

The definition of an old school football player who would have been just at home in 1965 as he is in 2015, Chandler Cox has a chance to see plenty of action this fall after performing well during spring practice after graduating early out of Apopka High School, where he was a key player in the team winning a Florida state championship in December. With the size (6-1, 237) and athleticism to play a number of different roles for the Tigers, Cox is a player who could line up in the backfield or as more of a tight end. That is something that would allow both Pettway and Cox to play at the same time in certain formations.

Chandler Cox played a variety of different positions in high school.

"It helps a lot," Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said of having two versatile players like Pettway and Cox. "Two guys that don't have any experience, but we really think they fit real well for what we're doing at that position. That takes a little pressure off Jalen (Harris) having to do both as much. Now, he's learning it all but he lets him focus a little more on tight end early on, which has been good."

Playing the two fullback-types at the same time is a strategy that may be employed with sophomore tight end Chris Laye likely still not ready for prime time after an up-and-down spring practice. Even though he’s up to 6-5, 250, Laye still isn’t as physical as Auburn is looking for at the position. If he can show that in the preseason, however, it would be a huge bonus for the Tigers. Fountain noted that Laye improved during the camp portion of preseason drills.

Coming in early in the summer tight end signee Jalen Harris has gotten bigger and stronger, but still has to improve his physicality as well before he’s ready to play at a high level in the SEC. However, because of Auburn's need at the position there is a good chance that Harris contributes this fall.

"Jalen Harris is doing a really, really good job as a true freshman," Lashlee said. "He's still got light years to go, obviously, but he's about 260 pounds so he's big enough. He's not as big as he's going to be but he's big enough. He's willing to stick his head in there and be physical and he's got good hands. For a true freshman, I've been pleased. He'll find a way to help us this year."

Jalen Harris, Kamryn Pettway, Chandler Cox

Help could also come from one of Auburn’s offensive linemen with Robert Leff and Will Adams two possibilities to get some work at tight end as well.

A wildcard at the position could be walk-on Robert Muschamp. The nephew of Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, he's similar to Cox in that he's just a football player. With good size he's someone to keep an eye on for the Tigers in the years to come.

Offensive Line Preview

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Running Backs Preview

Defensive Tackles Preview

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