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.--In this day and age of college football, and also in the NFL, one of the most important positions on the field is left tackle. That’s why the Auburn Tigers made a big move during spring practices, switching center Austin Golson back out to his natural position.
Settling in over the course of the 15 practice days, Golson has worked on his game throughout the summer and is in position to make the jump outside to the difficult left offensive tackle spot.
Starting his college career as a tackle at Ole Miss, Golson was slated to start at right tackle for the Rebels before transferring to Auburn. He worked at tackle for much of the 2014 season while redshirting with the Tigers, but was moved to center during bowl practices that year and the move stuck for the 2015 season.
Now at home once again, Golson seems to be very comfortable with the move. Knocking the rust off during the spring, he has practiced on pass sets throughout the summer and with guys like defensive end Carl Lawson to work against that should have him prepared for what he’ll face this fall.
Austin Golson is a redshirt junior from Prattville.
Best Case Scenario: If Golson can solidify the left tackle position it would allow the line to really come together. With some talented pass rushers early in the schedule, including Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall from Texas A&M and Arden Key from LSU, having the ability to lock down the left side would take a ton of pressure off Auburn’s offense in passing situations.
Worst Case Scenario: The problems arise in a big way if Golson struggles to handle the position because the next option is still a question mark. Texas transfer Darius James has the talent, but so far hasn’t stepped up his game enough to be a starter. No way around it, if Golson struggles it’s bad news for the Tigers.
Career Comparison: Mike Pucillo spent most of his career at guard for the Tigers and eventually played in the NFL, but his combination of good feet and power is what I see in Golson. A player who will probably see his future on the interior in the next level, Golson’s skill set works well at tackle in Auburn’s offense and should be a good fit in the power run game.
Quote: “I realize I annoy people because I ask him them all the time, 'What do I need to do to get better.' He's one of those guys,” Lawson said. “I'm like, 'Dang, is this what I say?' He's a guy who just wants to get better. He's always working on his craft, just like me.”