Coaches Announce Depth Chart For Opener

There are a several surprises on the depth chart as the Tigers prepare for their opening night game vs. Georgia Tech.

Auburn, Ala.-–With the season opener just five days away, the Auburn football coaching staff announced the expecting starting lineup for Saturday night's contest.

On the defensive side of the ball the biggest news may be that linebacker Karibi Dede is listed as first-team ahead of returning starter Kevin Sears at strongside linebacker for the Tigers.

While Sears has been slowed after having to wear a cast on his hand following minor surgery, Dede has been impressive. His play during two-a-days and scrimmage situations earned him the right to start the opener.

He's joined by returning starters Travis Williams in the middle and Antarrious Williams at weak side linebacker, back-up by Chris Evans and true freshman Tray Blackmon respectively.

Up front on defense Marquies Gunn is listed ahead of Quentin Groves on the strongside, which may come as a surprise to some, but not those who follow Auburn football closely. Gunn was as impressive as any Auburn defender this preseason until a hamstring strain sidelined him for two weeks. On the weakside Stanley McClover will be backed up by Christopher Browder. In the middle at noseguard Tommy Jackson is listed as the starter with Josh Thompson backing him up and at tackle Wayne Dickens is in front of Neil Brown.

In the secondary veteran Will Herring leads the way at free safety and is backed up by senior Kevin Hobbs and sophomore Tony Bell.

At strong safety Eric Brock won the job while redshirt freshman Steve Gandy is listed as his back-up. Cornerback Patrick Lee made the biggest move of the fall, taking the starting job from Montae Pitts during two-a-days. He will start opposite David Irons, who is backed-up by Jonathan Wilhite. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs said that Lee has been impressive this fall, but they're going to need everyone to be ready to play against a tough opponent like Georgia Tech.

"Pat Lee has continued to get better and better and better," Gibbs said. "He's another big fast guy that can run and jump and is very athletic. It's taken him a couple of years to mature into a big-time college football player, but I'm thinking that's what he's become.

"He's got to do it on Saturday night," Gibbs adds. "Doing it in practice and on Saturday afternoon are two different things. We'll find out here soon, but different guys are going to play out there. Whoever's number one, whatever that means, there will be more than one guy standing out there I'm sure."

Patrick Lee came from third team to win the starting job for the opener.

Offensively, things are much more stable as quarterback Brandon Cox is the starter heading into the season with Blake Field and then Calvin Booker behind him. At tailback Tre Smith is the starter heading into the opener with Carl Stewart just ahead of Kenny Irons and Brad Lester on the depth chart. At fullback senior Jake Slaughter will be backed-up by Michael McLaughlin, but Stewart could see action there as well.

At the wide receiver position someone had to be the odd man out and to start with it's going to be Devin Aromashodu. Despite a strong fall camp he's listed as second-team behind Ben Obomanu at one spot while Anthony Mix is ahead of Lee Guess at the slot receiver position. Outside Courtney Taylor is first-team with junior college transfer Prechae Rodriguez behind him. Tight end Cooper Wallace holds down the top spot with junior Cole Bennett behind him.

Ben Obomanu has been a key player for Auburn since his freshman season.

On the offensive line tackles Marcus McNeill and Troy Reddick anchor what should be a strong unit for the Tigers in 2005. They are backed-up by King Dunlap on the left side and redshirt freshman Antwoin Daniels behind Reddick.

In the middle guards Ben Grubbs and Tim Duckworth lead the way with Joe Cope at center. Behind Grubbs sophomore Leon Hart gets the nod while Jonathan Palmer backs-up Duckworth. At center senior Steven Ross is second while Palmer holds down the third spot.

There are no surprises in the area of special teams as John Vaughn easily won the kicking job ahead of freshman Zach Kutch, but Kutch will be Auburn's kickoff man backed up by punter Kody Bliss. Solid walk-on Patrick Martyn will be the back-up to Bliss this season.

Returning kickoffs for the Tigers with the first unit will be Aromashodu and Lee while Taylor and Lester or possibly Robert Dunn make up the second team. Returning punts will be Smith backed up by Dunn and redshirt freshman Anthony Campbell.

The Tigers open the season Saturday night at 7:45 when they take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Jordan-Hare Stadium. ESPN will televise the game live.

The following is the full depth chart for the Georgia Tech game:

OFFENSE

Fullback:
44 Jake Slaughter (6-2, 241, Sr.)
45 Mike McLaughlin (6-1, 230, RFr.)

Tailback:
22 Tre Smith (5-10, 207, Jr.)
32 Carl Stewart (6-1, 218, So.)
23 Kenny Irons (5-11, 205, Jr.)
28 Brad Lester (5-11, 200, RFr.)

Quarterback:
12 Brandon Cox (6-2, 207, SO.)
16 Blake Field (6-2, 199, RFr.)
11 Calvin Booker (6-4, 238, RFr.)

Wide Receiver:
9 Anthony Mix (6-5, 249, Sr.)
25 Lee Guess (5-10, 177, Jr.)

Left Tackle:
73 Marcus McNeill (6-9, 337, Sr.)
77 King Dunlap (6-9, 303, So.)

Left Guard:
69 Ben Grubbs (6-3, 302, Jr.)
72 Leon Hart (6-5, 302, So.)

Center:
50 Joe Cope (6-0, 277, Jr.)
74 Steven Ross (6-6, 292, Sr.)

Right Guard:
76 Tim Duckworth (6-3, 326, Jr.)
79 Jonathan Palmer (6-5, 319, Jr.)

Right Tackle:
66 Troy Reddick (6-5, 335, Sr.)
70 Antwoin Daniels (6-6, 298, RFr.)

Tight End:
8 Cooper Wallace (6-4, 265, Sr.)
87 Cole Bennett (6-5, 256, Jr.)

Wide Receiver:
2 Ben Obomanu (6-1, 209, Sr.)
1 Devin Aromashodu (6-2, 203, Sr.)

Wide Receiver:
86 Courtney Taylor (6-2, 207, Jr.)
15 Prechae Rodriquez (6-4, 192, So.)

DEFENSE

End:
48 Marquies Gunn (6-4, 258, Jr.)
54 Quentin Groves (6-3, 249, So.)

Noseguard:
58 T.J. Jackson (6-1, 305, Sr.)
97 Josh Thompson (6-0, 301, So.)

Tackle:
96 Wayne Dickens (6-1, 303, Sr.)
64 Neil Brown (6-2, 267, So.)

End:
75 Stanley McClover (6-2, 258, So.)
92 Chris Browder (6-4, 254, Jr.)

Strongside Linebacker:
21 Karibi Dede (6-0, 220, Jr.)
40 Kevin Sears (6-4, 238, Jr.)

Middle Linebacker:
51 Travis Williams (6-1, 216, Sr.)
59 Chris Evans (6-0, 215, Fr.)

Weakside Linebacker:
31 Antarrious Williams (5-11, 213, Sr.)
10 Tray Blackmon (6-0, 192, Fr.)

Strong Safety:
33 Eric Brock (6-1, 213, So.)
26 Steve Gandy (6-1, 202, So.)

Free Safety:
35 Will Herring (6-3, 220, Jr.)
49 Kevin Hobbs (6-0, 195, Sr.)
3 Tony Bell (6-2, 206, So.)

Cornerback:
20 Patrick Lee (6-0, 200, So.)
19 Montae Pitts (6-2, 206, Jr.)

Cornerback:
4 David Irons (6-1, 189, Sr.)
24 Jonathan Wilhite (5-11, 171, So.)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker:
37 John Vaughn (6-1, 201, Jr.)
18 Zack Kutch (5-9, 172, Fr.)

Punter:
30 Kody Bliss (5-11, 179, JR.)
13 Patrick Martyn (5-10, 198, RFr.)

Deep Snapper (Punt):
62 Pete Compton (6-6, 239, So.)
52 Chas Crofoot (6-1, 190, Sr.)

Deep Snapper (Field Goal, PAT):
52 Chas Crofoot (6-1, 190, Sr.)
62 Pete Compton (6-6, 239, So.)

Holder:
20 Matthew Motley (5-10, 177, So.)

Kickoff Returner:
1 Devin Aromashodu (6-2, 203, Sr.) &
20 Patrick Lee (6-0, 198, SO.)

86 Courtney Taylor (6-2, 207, Jr.) &
28 Brad Lester (5-11, 190, RFr.) or
6 Robert Dunn (6-0, 169, Fr.)

Punt Returner:
22 Tre Smith (5-10, 207, Jr.)
6 Robert Dunn (6-0, 169, Fr.)
17 Anthony Campbell (5-10, 191, RFr.)


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