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Gus Malzahn Notices Newcomers At Auburn's Second Preseason Football Practice

News and notes from Auburn's Thursday football practice are featured.

Rudy Ford (above) has practiced exclusively on defense so far although he has the potential to play tailback if needed.

Auburn, Ala.-- Gus Malzahn said his early look at his Auburn newcomers has been encouraging after two days of preseason football practice.

“The thing that stood out to me on the last day of helmet-only (practice) we got some good information about our young guys the first two days as far as talent level. It looks like we have got some guys who are extremely talented. They just need to figure out what is going on and learn their assignments.

“Tomorrow we are going to go out in pads,” he said. “It will be a physical practice. We will learn a whole lot tomorrow as far as that goes.”

The top three quarterbacks continued to share reps at Thursday’s practice. “They are more confident, they are more attention to detail, they know when they do something wrong and correct themselves,”?Malzahn said. “There is great competition. All three of those guys are rolling up their sleeves and competing and trying to win the job.”

Sean White is the returning starter. The sophomore is trying to hold off challenges from senior Jeremy Johnson, the starter to open the 2015 season, and juco transfer John Franklin.

“I would say they are much improved from the spring, but I expected them to do that,”?Malzahn added. “It will be a good competition.”

In other news and notes:

*Newly arrived cornerback Marlon Character reported for practice on Thursday and is ready for action after going through his physical and paperwork from the NCAA Clearinghouse. All members of the signee class have been cleared to play for a third consecutive year.

“I think that says a lot about the guys we are recruiting,” Malzahn said, noting the coaching staff has targeted prospects they expect to be academically eligible.

*Graduate transfer Marshall Taylor, a defensive back from Miami of Ohio, was not at practice as was the case on Wednesday. Malzahn said that Taylor is taking care of “some personal business and we will see what happens like I told you yesterday.”

*Malzahn noted that he “feels good” about the depth at running back despite the dismissal of tailback Jovon Robinson on Wednesday. “At this point we aren’t moving any defensive players over,” he said. “We feel good about what we have got.”

Senior defensive back Rudy Ford played running back as a freshman and is a possibility to move to offense if needed.

*Newcomer Stephen Davis Jr., who was recruited as a safety or outside linebacker, has spent his first two practices at tailback, a position he played on a part-time basis in high school.

“He is a big, athletic guy,” Malzahn said. “We have seen him for two days, but he was a very good player, really on both sides of the ball, coming out of high school. He is still figuring out what is going on. He is a big guy who can run so when we get in pads a little bit we will have a little more information.”

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Kameron Martin (left) and Stephen Davis (right) are true freshmen who joined the team this summer.

*The other newly arrived running back, Kameron Martin, won praise from sophomore Kerryon Johnson on Thursday and the head coach agreed.

“Kameron Martin has got a lot of talent,”?Malzahn said. “Really the last two days he stood out. When we got him here we knew he was a special type talent. It is just a matter of how quick he can figure it out. He is extremely quick, he has got a lot of natural things to him and he is a real attention to detail guy. That is encouraging.

“Malik Miller is another guy,” Malzahn said of the freshman running back who joined the team in January. “He is much improved from the spring. He really stood out to me in a positive way the first two days, too. We have got some guys battling out. That competition is always going to be good. I would say the two older guys, Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, and probably Chandler Cox, they were all very good today.”

*Malzahn praised junior linebacker Tre Williams, who he said is a hard worker with great character. “He has got football IQ. He is one of those when he gets out on the field he plays faster and just raises his level and leads by example. He is one of our defensive leaders and we feel very good about him leading the defense.”

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