Editor's Note: These lists feature our thoughts on the most important players for Auburn heading into the 2016 football season. We are counting down 16 key Tigers for the offense and 16 more for the defense as Coach Gus Malzahn's team prepares to face Clemson in the season opener.
Auburn, Ala.--With a wealth of inexperience at the wide receiver position for the Auburn Tigers, senior Marcus Davis goes into the season as not only the expected go-to guy for Coach Kodi Burns, but also the leader of a group that needs to improve after a rough 2015 season.
Second on the team in receptions last year with 30, Davis enters his final fall with the Tigers with 66 career catches. That is 13 more than the entire returning roster has for its career, making Davis an even more important part of things for the Tigers this fall.
A talented player with very good hands, all Davis needs is more touches to become a playmaker in the offense, something the Tigers desperately need. They also need his leadership, something Auburn's coaches say they have been getting from the senior going back to winter workouts and spring training.
Best Case Scenario: If Auburn’s offense can run the football and do it effectively, it should allow Davis to become a key weapon for the Tigers. With his ability to make plays in traffic over the middle, the sure-handed senior is someone the quarterbacks should target early and often, especially at the beginning of the year.
Worst Case Scenario: A struggle running the football would put even more pressure on a passing game that will depend on a lot of new faces to get the job done. That would put the bullseye squarely on Davis and the quarterbacks, making it difficult for him to take his game to the next level because of the extra attention given to him and the passing game by defenses.
Career Comparison: Duke Donaldson was a quarterback at Cairo High in Georgia until he became a clutch wide receiver for the Auburn Tigers later in his career. Not the biggest or the fastest receiver on his Auburn teams, Donaldson just made plays. The same is true of Davis, who has a chance to make his mark on the program in his final year on the Plains.
Quote: “I would say Marcus is the most dependable guy we’ve got,” said Rhett Lashlee, AU's offensive coordinator. “We have moved him around and we’re trying to find ways to get him the ball and give him the opportunity to be that guy.”