John Franklin (above) is shown at Auburn's practice on Tuesday.
Auburn, Ala.-- Gus Malzahn said he liked what he saw as the Auburn football team returned from an 11-day spring break and provided news on the wide receivers front on Tuesday evening.
“John Franklin will work primarily at wide receiver the rest of the spring,” the coach said about the senior backup quarterback. “He played some (receiver) before we left--did some things on special teams.
“Everybody knows he is a very good athlete,” Malzahn said. “He has a great attitude and wants to help the team any way he can. He has really done a good job with that.”
Kyle Davis, a sophomore receiver who has yet to practice with the team this spring, was not at Tuesday’s full pads workout.
“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said. “I am not sure if he is going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall. It is just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”
Fellow sophomore receiver Eli Stove said not having Davis at practice is noticeable. “It’s a loss. It’s a loss to all the receivers. We all love KD. He’s a great person, but he can come back and be strong and get better. We’ll be all right, though. I’m not saying we don’t need him, but, yeah.”
A receiver who missed the early practices while recovering from an injury is on the field again.
“Darius Slayton came back and had his first practice today,” Malzahn said. “We didn’t just throw him in and let him go, we tried to be strategic and smart about it, but he got quite a few reps and each practice we’ll bring him a little more along. He’s got the ability to kind of be one of the leaders of that group. It was good to have him back out there.”
With Franklin at wide receiver and Tyler Queen deciding to transfer in search of playing time, the previously crowded quarterback position is down from six to four scholarship players plus walk-on Devin Adams.
“Tyler Queen has asked for his release,” Malzahn said. “We granted that. We wish him nothing but the best. He is a fine young man. In fairness to him, he has been banged up and not been healthy a whole lot since he's been here, but he is a fine young man and has a great family and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Gus Malzahn (left) and his new offensive coordinator, Chip Lindsey, are shown at Auburn's Tuesday practice.
The returning starter at QB, Sean White, is limited in practice as he recovers from a broken bone in his arm, but has increased what he is doing.
“Sean did some seven-on-seven today,” Malzahn pointed out. “He is not doing any team. He did a little seven-on-seven the last practice. He will not do any kind of team-type deals, but it was good to have him out there throwing. He is still kind of on a pitch count, but he was out there at least where Chip (offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey) can evaluate him.”
Commenting on the QB position, Malzahn said, “I think we started out with six and you have got to make decisions as you go. I know Chip has a good plan for rotating the guys as far as that goes. Obviously, it is easier to evaluate the smaller the number.”
The Tigers will have their first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday. Malzahn was asked if the quarterbacks will be off limits for contact and said, “Me and Chip will talk about it, probably, as it gets closer. We will see. I am not going to rule out anything. We’ll just have to see.”
Asked how the other quarterbacks are doing, the head coach said, “I would say good. We’re not throwing a whole bunch of plays at them--it’s just trying to get good at a few things. I think Chip is more interested in how they comprehend and how they react and who can stay calm in the pocket and who can do the progressions and who can protect the football.
“I would say we’re not ready to really give any of them arrived or not arrived, it’s more of just the process of spring. As it gets to the last five practices things usually start to kind of make things clear.”
Asked if he is eager to see redshirt freshman Woody Barrett and early high school graduate Malik Willis in a scrimmage situation on Saturday, Malzahn said, “No doubt--two young guys to see how they react.”
Commenting on how Barrett is doing in practice, he said, “Of course, Woody got here late. He didn’t get to go through summer and all that. We made a pretty quick decision. I think it was after two weeks that we decided to redshirt so he was on the scout team, which was good for him.
“This is his first real chance to compete for playing time and all that. You can tell he’s more urgent than he was. It’s just a process. I’ll probably answer that question a little bit better the last five practices.”
Defensive lineman Byron Cowart is shown at Tuesday's practice.
In other news and notes:
*Commenting on Queen’s bad luck with injuries, Malzahn said, “I think that is really what stands out to me. I think he had the elbow injury coming out of high school kind of set him back a little bit. Had a shoulder or two, but he is an outstanding young man--great worker, great character. He is a smart kid, too.”
*A pair of defensive backs returning from 2016 knee surgeries, Jamel Dean and Jayvaughn Myers, are at practice, but mostly observers. “They are very limited,” Malzahn pointed out. “They will be cleared for summer to go. Both of them are coming along really good and we think both of them could help us. Obviously, Dean was in the mix to start (in 2016 at cornerback) before he got hurt.”
*A pair of defensive ends who have missed some practice time this spring are back in the mix. “Nick Coe and Paul James were back today at practice,” Malzahn said. “They were back the day before we left, too. I’m not going to say that either are 100 percent, but they are out there and they are improving.”
*With Franklin being one of the team’s fastest players, Malzahn was asked if the former QB will get a chance to return punts and kickoffs. “All of the above,” the coach said. “He’s got a chance, I think everybody knows when he’s got the ball in his hands that he’s got a unique ability to change the game.”