Jason Caldwell

Youth Is Served For AU At H-Back/Tight End

Auburn will have three freshmen playing key roles on offense when the Tigers take on Louisville this Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--A position filled with so much experience the last two seasons in Auburn’s offense will be the youngest on the team in 2015, but that hasn’t kept Gus Malzahn from expecting big things out of a trio of starters at the fullback/H-Back/tight end position for the Tigers.

A redshirt last year, fullback Kamryn Pettway (6-0, 242) is listed as a co-starter at H-Back along with true freshman Chandler Cox (6-1, 232). That’s not a surprise after both players came out of spring practice a lock to see the field this fall. With the capability of playing at the same time in several of Auburn’s offensive sets, Pettway and Cox can deliver in a number of different ways, but Malzahn said the first order of business is to be physical.

“It’s going to be very important,” Malzahn said. “That, traditionally, has been a very important position in our offense and we’ve had different body types at that position, but both those guys are kinda old school football player mentalities.

“They’re very physical at the point of attack. They both can catch a football. They’re both athletic. They both played tailback-type situations in high school, so it gives us a lot of versatility. They just need some reps. They need some experience. We’ll see how they do.”

Needing experience is definitely the first order of business for Auburn’s starting tight end, true freshman Jalen Harris out of St. James in Montgomery. Adding size and strength since his senior year of high school, Harris checks in at 6-4, 250 and Malzahn said he definitely brings some positives to the table.

“Yeah, Jalen is a guy that’s really came in, and really what’s impressed me is how physical he’s been as a true freshman.

“We knew when we recruited him that we needed him to help us early, and as far as the blocking and the physical part, that’s really what stood out to me. He played a similar position in high school in his high school offense, and I think that’s helped him too.”

Just how much Harris can help the Tigers right away still remains a question. With Pettway and Cox both capable of playing different roles and with both more familiar with the offense having gone through spring practice, Malzahn said Harris’ role may be limited somewhat, but he’s not sharing just how much.

“You see us from year to year be a little bit different with the tight end, so I don’t want to tell all our secrets here before the first game,” Malzahn said. “We’ll have a tight end on the field from time to time.”

Auburn faces off against Louisville in the season opener on Saturday in the Georgia Dome. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CDT and can be seen on CBS.

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