Kerryon Johnson (above) is expected to play a major role for the Tigers.
Finally Some Football
The high school season kicked off in Alabama last week and I had the chance to watch some actual football and it only served to get me even more ready for another year on the job. This will be year number 17 for me at Inside The Auburn Tigers and the last two weeks leading up to a new year are always the longest, just like I’m sure it is for many of the fans.
One of the reasons why is because there is always a measure of uncertainty about a team no matter how much you know or think you know about how it will perform. Last season is obviously the most recent example of that because in my mind the 2015 Auburn Tigers had everything in line to make a run a championship, but it just goes to show you how much momentum, chemistry and confidence can impact things.
Things can also happen in the other way as 2013 showed. Heading into that season there was no question it was a determined Auburn team that had talent, but in no way did I see a team that would end up playing for a national championship at the end of the year. Like 1993 and 2010 before them, it was a team that had veterans that had seen both good and bad during their careers and knew what it took to get to the top.
That is something this year’s Auburn team has with guys like Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams on defense and Marcus Davis and Alex Kozan on offense. All played a role on that 2013 team and are leaders for the Tigers this season. While it will take improvement on offense and defense to make things come together, this Auburn team has the makings of one that could surprise.
Kerryon Can Get It Done
While Kerryon Johnson doesn’t have a history of carrying the load at the running back position, don’t think for a moment that the Auburn sophomore can’t get the job done in that capacity if called upon to do so.
Watching Johnson play since his freshman season, he reminds me as much of Cadillac Williams as anyone I can remember for Auburn because not only could he play multiple positions, he is able to raise his game to another level when the situation calls for it.
That happened in his final game with Madison Academy in the state title contest against Dale County. Facing a team that was matching his squad score for score early in the game, Johnson took over in a big way. Touching the ball just 10 total times that day, Johnson ran for 178 yards and four scores on eight carries, added a 66-yard touchdown catch and capped it off with a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown.
It remains to be seen whether or not Johnson can be the guy who carries it 25 times a game for weeks at a time, but this season may not call for that kind of play at the running back position. With Kamryn Pettway, Chandler Cox, Malik Miller and Kameron Martin all capable of taking on some of the workload at running back, Johnson likely won’t have to carry it 30+ times in a game. However, if he’s called upon to do so my guess is Johnson won’t back down one inch.
Whitlow Puts On A Show
In watching football last weekend I had the chance to see Auburn recruiting target JaTarvious Whitlow and I left very impressed by his play on the field. Last season I saw Whitlow play against Randolph County and while he did some good things, I wasn’t sure if he was an SEC player. After watching him again as a senior I no longer have any doubts about the LaFayette High School star's ability.
Much more physical on the field as a runner, Whitlow took over a game against an athletic Dadeville team and making it even more impressive was that he did it without having much talent around him. Being recruited as an athlete by Auburn that would likely get his first look at safety, Whitlow is a prospect I predict will see his recruiting take off by the time his senior season is done.