Auburn Football Walk-on Will Hastings Looking for Increased Playing Time

Comments from Will Hastings, his position coach and an Auburn defensive back are featured as the junior wide receiver looks to move up the depth chart.

Will Hastings (above) is shown in action vs. Clemson.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the highlights of the first major scrimmage of spring football for Auburn was the combination of new quarterback Jarrett Stidham passing the football to junior wide receiver Will Hastings. That combination has continued to be effective throughout spring training as the Tigers head into Saturday's A-Day Game.

“I think we have a pretty good connection,” Hastings says of Stidham, a redshirt transfer from Baylor.

“He kind of reminds me of my high school quarterback (Will Hefley III), who is at Tulsa now. He kind of has that same physique, I guess. I like Jarrett and I think we kind of read each other’s minds.”

Hastings caught eight passes in Auburn’s first three games last season, but finished with just three more receptions in the next 10 contests. The junior walk-on from Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., said that his performance level dropped and that is why his playing time decreased after a solid start to his sophomore season.

Although he is just 5-10, 170 pounds, Hastings has been effective this spring catching passes in the offense directed by Chip Lindsey, the new coordinator.

Cornerback Javaris Davis has noticed Hastings is stepping up in practice. “He is real shifty,” Davis says. “He reminds me of (Julian) Edelman for the Patriots. That’s a real good comparison because they’re both shifty slot guys. Reliable--he always catches the ball. Will’s real good.”

Asked if he is excited about how his spring is going, Hastings says, “I am definitely excited, but it’s not about me, it’s about everyone. I am excited for the team because we are obviously getting better on offense and defense.”

With a goal to add 15 pounds and get stronger prior to the regular season, he notes that Kodi Burns, his position coach, wants the walk-on to become an all-around performer at receiver.

“Coach Burns has been hounding me on being more physical and blocking,” Hastings says. “That is one of the things I am  working on for sure.”

Burns says he is seeing good things from the undersized receiver. “I think he is bigger than Wes Welker so I don’t think his body size is an issue at all,” the receivers coach says.

“A lot of people get caught up in all kind of crazy stuff,” Burns adds. “At the end of the day if you’re a football player and you make plays, you’re going to play. I don’t care if you’re a walk on, I don’t care if you’re a five-star.”

Burns notes that he is seeing progress from Hastings, who gained 2,040 receiving yards in one season as a high school senior. “Now he’s kind of slowing down the game and he’s in a comfort (zone) right now, and I feel pretty good about him,”?the coach says.

Hastings and the Tigers will play their annual spring game on Saturday with kickoff set for 1 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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