Auburn, Ala.--An already thin linebacker group for the Auburn Tigers will be even thinner next season as Coach Gus Malzahn announced on Tuesday that fifth-year senior JaViere Mitchell has decided to not return to the team for his final season of eligibility.
Mitchell made five solo tackles with eight assists last season with one tackle for lost yardage.
"He has chose not to come back for next year," Malzahn said. "JaViere is ready to start his life and his career. He did a great job for us the last three years."
Malzahn said that Mitchell and redshirt sophomore Chris Laye, who will stay in school but not play football, "are fine young men and are going to be successful in life."
That leaves Auburn in a serious hole with only junior Tre Williams back with any experience at the linebacker position as the Tigers prepare for spring practice. They will get help this summer, however, with the addition of Illinois transfer T.J. Neal, who plans to enroll at Auburn as a graduate transfer student. Neal started the past two seasons for the Illini.
“We’ve got some young guys that are inexperienced," Malzahn said. "Tre Williams is the one guy, he’s kind of the veteran of the group right now. We feel good about these young guys. There is nothing better than getting reps in the spring and all those young guys are going to have an opportunity to show what they can do. Of course we’ve got some guys we feel very good about.”
Auburn is replacing linebackers Kris Frost, Justin Garrett, Cassanova McKinzy and Kenny Flowers, who were seniors last season.