Photo by Jason Caldwell

Answering Your Questions About The Auburn Tigers In This Edition Of The Friday Mailbag

Talking a whole lot of Auburn football in this edition of the Friday Mailbag as the Tigers get ready to start spring practice.

Mike Horton (above) is a talented young offensive lineman for the Tigers

bigplayer2404: Jason, I am waiting to make a decision on CKS as DC. His background from what I have seen gives me pause. While a great recruiter, I have not seen much to make me get excited he can continue to build on what CWM placed down last year as DC. What are your thoughts on him that may make me cautiously optimistic about our Defense other than my current thought that next year will really rely solely on the offensive production?

I thought he did a good job at LSU last season and made them a very good unit by the end of the year, something I wasn’t sure about. What I liked was that they used a lot of young players and made it work. That shows me he can teach, but he can also find the best ways to use his talent. I think that’s something that should help him this year. Throw in that he’s familiar with Will Muschamp, that should allow him to keep the things that worked and add in things as he sees fit.


AUTigerBSME90: Do you think we have a shot to make the NIT?

I think making the NIT is probably harder than making the NCAA Tournament because of the numbers. Only 32 teams make it and if you win your league and don’t make the Big Dance then you automatically get a bid to the NIT. That means maybe one or two teams from even the big leagues. All that to say I don’t like Auburn’s chances of making it this year.


AUPMBA: How has Purifoy looked in practice and will he make a difference next year?

Danjel Purifoy is without question the most talented player on the roster and has been since he arrived in the summer. He’s an NBA player in terms of body and upside. He’ll have some growing pains after sitting out this year, but he’s a legit All-SEC type player right away.


gmason73: With Spring practice starting next week, what are the biggest questions that need to be answered, other than who plays QB?

I think the biggest question for me is at offensive tackle. I’m just not sure how things are going to shake out with Herb Hand taking a fresh look at guys. Robert Leff has gotten bigger and stronger so that should help him and Darius James is looking good as well. Should be a position to watch. The other is at linebacker. Young guys like Darrell Williams, Richard McBryde and Montavious Atkinson need to have a big spring.


settindown: Jason please comment on a couple of newcomers on offense and defense that will surprise us in the Spring and be big time contributors in the Fall. By newcomers I mean guys that have not previously contributed - true freshmen, red shirts, transfers, or true songs who only plated special teams last year.

On offense I think Darius James could be a guy to watch. The Texas transfer should battle for one of the tackle spots with redshirt freshman Mike Horton. Both are athletic and should be good run blockers. I think the spring is obviously important for Darius Slayton as well. With four WR’s coming in he needs to play well. Defensively I think Darrell Williams could be a big-time player at linebacker and I like Jamel Dean’s ability at cornerback. Dean is big, strong and has good coverage skills.


aupops: Jason why have we not used the Tight End in the last 2-3 years?

C.J. Uzomah had some productive red zone trips during his years, but they didn’t have any playmakers ready at the position last year. I think the TE use will continue to develop as Jalen Harris matures and with Landon Rice now on campus. Just a matter of those two finding their groove in the offense.


Fleagle: While we all are excited about the 2016 class, most of the newcomer help will come from the 2015 class. Can we get an update by individual in the 2015 recruiting class, injuries/status, redshirts and those that played sparingly and how they are developing? Which guys in this group will play and contribute the most this season?

Tyler Queen--Coming off Tommy John surgery. Throwing the ball and should go through some spring practice and be full speed this summer.

Montavious Atkinson--Started as a safety, but moved to linebacker last fall. He’s a playmaker that should be in the mix for playing time.

Kerryon Johnson--Obviously saw a lot of action at running back. Had shoulder surgery after the bowl win and should be full strength early in the summer.

Bailey Sharp--Redshirted last year and is working to get into the mix at offensive tackle.

Marquel Harrell--An impressive player as a redshirt last season, Harrell is working at guard but has the skills to play tackle if needed.

Kaleb Kim--Another redshirt offensive lineman, Kim is at center and will be a good one as he continues to get bigger and stronger.

Darrell Williams--Played special teams last season and should be in the mix for playing time at linebacker this year.

Chandler Cox--Got a lot of time as a fullback/H-Back last season along with Kameron Pettway. Should be better as a sophomore.

Tyler Carr--Redshirted last year. In the mix at guard for the Tigers behind Alex Kozan.

Jalen Harris--Got some playing time as a freshman last season at tight end. A year in the weight room should make him a viable candidate for an increased role this season.

Richard McBryde--Another player in the mix for playing time at linebacker, McBryde redshirted last season and has gained much needed size in the last few months.

Jauntavius Johnson--Trying to work his way into the playing rotation at defensive tackle, Johnson needs a very strong spring with Antwuan Jackson already on campus and Derrick Brown on his way.

Ian Shannon--Redshirted and should be in the mix to challenge Kevin Phillips to be Auburn’s punter this season.

Tim Irvin--Played early in the season until nagging injuries sidelined him. The move of Rudy Ford to nickel relegated him to watching for much of the second half of the year.

Jeremiah Dinson--Was off to a good start in his career until the injury suffered at Texas A&M. He’ll have a long road of recovery including a redshirt year in 2016.

Prince Tega Wanogho Jr.--Finally getting on the practice field for bowl practices after recovering from his leg injury, Tega looks great physically and will just need to work on his fundamentals.

Darius Slayton--A speedy wide receiver, Slayton has gained weight and that should help him this spring and he needs a good one with the incoming freshmen heading to campus.

Mike Horton--He’s trimmed down and looks great. He’ll challenge for a starting job at right tackle.

Javaris Davis--Redshirted last season and will be in the mix for playing time at cornerback this season.

Ryan Davis--We saw a glimpse of his speed last season and he’s gotten stronger, something that should help him this spring as he gets plenty of chances to show what he can do.

Jeff Holland--He played much better at the end of the season and goes into the spring as a confident player. I expect him to continue in his role of a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker just like Carl Lawson.

Byron Cowart--I think he started to get used to his new body by the end of the year and I expect him to be much better this spring. Playing at 280 was tough for him last year, but that should be easier for him to play at now.


Tiger82; What do you think are the baseball team's prospects this year?

It all depends on how deep the pitching staff can be by the time they get into SEC play. Right now I don’t know that they’ll have enough quality pitching to make a serious run. They need guys like Tavo Rodriguez, Gabe Klobosits, Andrew Mitchell, Ben Braymer and Casey Mize to all pitch well and if that happens the offense should be good enough to get the job done.

adam36830: Have you heard anything from players on how JFIII looks to be throwing the ball?

I haven’t heard anything about him so far because they’ve spent much of the time doing mat drills and the morning workouts. I know he’s been impressive physically and has gained some size since he got on campus.


auburnNC89: How have winter workouts been going? Have you seen any big strength and size gains from the guys in the 2015 class?

I mentioned Leff earlier. He’s definitely gotten bigger since last season. Carlton Davis is up from around 180 to 190 as well.


givhandy: Any idea if QB's will be "live" during spring practice?

We’ll ask Gus Malzahn next week, but I can’t imagine the quarterbacks being live. It’s very rarely done anymore on just about any level.

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