Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers opened spring football practices on Tuesday and that means an annual look at who gained and lost size since last season and what that could mean moving forward.
Even with a shortened winter conditioning program thanks to the Sugar Bowl and early spring, there are guys definitely worth mentioning for the work they have done getting ready for for the 2017 football season.
That starts with sophomore defensive lineman Derrick Brown. Weighing in at 335 to start the season last fall, Brown worked on his conditioning and trimmed up during the year. That allowed him to even see time at defensive end and show he’s a guy who can rush the passer. Now at 6-5, 317 this spring, Brown is showing the work ethic combined with his talent to make him a potential major contributor on defense for the Tigers.
Another defensive lineman who has put in the work is redshirt freshman Nick Coe. Checking in at 6-6, 255 when he arrived, the former standout wrestler is now 270 and has an athletic build. With his size, speed and strength, Coe is a player who is going to be tough to keep off the field.
At running back, junior Kerryon Johnson definitely did some good things last season at 211 pounds, but his spring weight of 6-0, 204 looks could be a better fit for his style of play. While he showed the toughness to run through defenders last season, the strength of his game is versatility and that should be better utilized at a lesser weight.
On the other side of that equation is speedy sophomore Kameron Martin. At 5-10, 177 last season, Martin wasn’t a guy the coaches trusted to run between the tackles in big situations. Now up to 182, he’s inching closer to being able to handle at least some of that role while also keeping his speed on the edge.
It doesn’t seem like being smaller would be a strength for an offensive lineman, but if Braden Smith wins the job at right tackle the fact that he’s down to 305 from 314 a season ago could have a lot to do with it. Needing more quickness to handle pass rushers coming off the edge, down nine pounds could be just the edge that Smith needs to win the job.
On the other side is big redshirt sophomore Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. At 6-8, 282 a season ago, Tega looked more like a big tight end at times. Now at 6-8, 300 he has the look of a player ready to make a run at the starting left tackle position. If he can do that it would open up the rest of the line and make the group a force heading into next year.
Darrell Williams (49) is shown with early high school graduate Chandler Wooten (17) at Tuesday's practice.
Rounding out the list is Darrell Williams. Measuring in at 6-2, 231 before last season, the Hoover native is now weighing 247. That could make him a bigger force in the middle of the defense with his added bulk, but a player who has very good athleticism and quickness, Williams could potentially get a look as a pass rusher with his size. That could make things very interesting with a player of his talent level coming off the edge of the defense.