Kamryn Pettway (above) looks ready for an expanded role.
Auburn, Ala.--While the competition at the quarterback position got much of the attention during Auburn's 15 days of spring practice, Coach Gus Malzahn’s team has a need for all-around improvement offensively as the Tigers head into the 2016 football season.
In choosing AU offensive five players whose stock improved in a major way this spring, two of them share a position. Both Kamryn Pettway, a redshirt sophomore, and true sophomore Chandler Cox will head into the season with plenty of momentum from the way they performed during the 15 days of spring drills.
Cox, a versatile guy who lined up at quarterback, running back, linebacker, safety and elsewhere in high school, looks like he has smoothly settled in to the role of H-back/fullback, which for the upcoming season could include part-time work at the tailback position.
Chandler Cox was a contributor last fall as a true freshman from Apoka, Fla., High where he was a standout performer.
Cox’s 71-yard run was the longest play in the A-Day game and was a continuation of his strong performance from previous scrimmages. If given the opportunity this fall, Cox could be effective running the football between the tackles with his aggressive and physical approach.
Pettway ran the ball seven times for 77 yards in the A-Day game and looked quite natural in the tailback role, a position he played at Prattville High School. Like Cox, Pettway is a solid blocker and like Cox is a threat as a receiver.
In addition to having good power running between the tackles, Pettway has shown the potential to be a threat on sweeps like he did in high school.
Xavier Dampeer was given the opportunity to play with the first team at center this spring when new offensive line coach Herb Hand experimented with using Austin Golson at left tackle. Golson, a redshirt junior, is the returning starter at center.
Although it is not set in stone that Golson will stay outside at left tackle where the Tigers have to replace multi-year starter Shon Coleman, that looks to be a good possibility. One of the reasons it could happen is the play of Dampeer at center. The fifth-year senior won praise for his improvement at the position during spring training after missing the 2015 campaign with an injury.
Ryan Davis didn’t see much action last season as a true freshman, but showed promise when he did play. The opportunity at Auburn couldn’t be much better for a receiver this year and in spring training the former high school quarterback took a big step forward towards taking advantage of the situation by positioning himself for an expanded role in the offense.
Ryan Davis is shown in action during the A-Day scrimmage.
Davis has quick feet and good hands. Combine that with enough speed to run deep routes and you have a wideout with big-play potential, something the Tigers desperately need to take pressure off whoever is lined up at the quarterback and the running attack spots. Davis also has excellent potential as a punt returner.
On defense one of the early high school graduates, end Marlon Davidson, performed well enough in the spring to get a chance to play with the first team. That happened on offense, too, as Landon Rice positioned himself for a potential starting role at tight end.
Like Davidson, Rice played in the Under Armour All-American Game before enrolling for classes at Auburn in January. And, like Davidson, Rice showed that he is physically and mentally advanced for such a young player. Because of that, and with Auburn having a real need for immediate help at the tight end position, Rice has an excellent chance of starting this fall or playing a great deal even if he is a backup.