Devonte Danzey (above) also plays guard for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn confirmed on Monday the news that senior center Xavier Dampeer will be not be available to play this week against Kentucky if Auburn needs a second center, saying "he'll be out for an extended period of time."
Dampeer is recovering a jaw injury after being hit in an off-the-field incident the night after Auburn's Homecoming victory over San Jose State.
While Austin Golson has solidified his spot in the middle for the first team offense, Malzahn notes that the Tigers have a variety of other linemen who can play center.
"We've got a couple of different options as far as that goes," Malzahn said. "We've got guys that have taken reps before. Devonte Danzey is probably the first guy that would be in with that."
Not playing in a game this season after seeing action in five contests a year ago, Dampeer challenged Golson for the starting job in the preseason only to come up short in the battle. Now the Tigers are left without a true backup.
Xavier Dampeer is expected to be out for at least several weeks
Another option could be redshirt sophomore Deon Mix. Seeing very limited action in 2014 after redshirting his first year at Auburn, Mix has also worked at the guard position and could be a player the Tigers turn to if something were to happen to Golson.
Another player who could be used is current right tackle Avery Young. Also someone who has taken some snaps during his career, Young has the knowledge of the offense and the ability to slide inside if needed. That would likely mean Robert Leff moving to right tackle in the event Young was the player used.
Rounding out the possibilities at center is true freshman Kaleb Kim. Working as Auburn’s third center since arriving on campus over the summer, Kim is the future at the position for the Tigers and it’s doubtful Auburn would waste his redshirt year at this point in the season.
No matter who is up next, the best option for the Tigers at the moment is to keep Golson healthy and on the field. A player who is improving at center since moving to the position during bowl practices, Golson is on the right track, according to offenisve coordiantor Rhett Lashlee.
“There has been some good, some bad,” Lashlee said. “He's our guy. We really believe in him. I have from the start. From a mental side, that's been the best thing. He's a pretty smart kid.
“I think the more and more he plays…he's only played five games in his life at center, and it's been in this league. I wouldd like to think he'll get better," Lashlee said. "Overall, he's done a nice job.”