Likely AU Offensive Starters and Top Backups

This article features the Tigers expected to be in the opening night starting lineup when the Tigers take on Washington State.

Auburn, Ala.—An official depth chart hasn't been released by the Auburn coaching staff for the 2006 football season, but this is our take on who to look for in the offensive lineup for the opener against Washington State Saturday night.

WIDE RECEIVER--

86 Courtney Taylor (6-2, 210, Sr.)--Auburn's most experienced and talented receiver, Taylor has battled through a minor knee injury during preseason practices, but is healthy for the opener.

84 Montez Billings (6-2, 180, RFr.)—Billings has come on strong during the preseason and should be a solid backup to Taylor this fall.

WIDE RECEIVER

25 Lee Guess (5-10, 181, Sr.)—A solid fall camp helped Guess earn the starting spot he's worked so hard to get.

3 Robert Dunn (6-0, 177, So.)--Dunn has performed well and is stronger and quicker in his second season. Look for the sophomore to return punts.

LEFT TACKLE

77 King Dunlap (6-8, 318, Jr.)—Despite some back problems during camp Dunlap is firmly established at the position and is looking to have a good year in his first season to start.

72 Leon Hart (6-4, 300, Jr.)--Hart has been bothered by a strained abdominal muscle during preseason camp, but should be 100 percent heading into the opener. Because of his experience and injuries during two-a-days, Coach Hugh Nall says Hart will take on the Jonathan Palmer role from 2005 and be the top backup at every position on the offensive line with the exception of the center.

Ben Grubbs has started 25 consecutive games at guard for the Tigers.

LEFT GUARD

69 Ben Grubbs (6-3, 318, Sr.)--Auburn's most dominant lineman in the preseason, Grubbs should be up for all-conference honors at the end of the year.

72 Leon Hart (6-4, 300, Jr.)--Hart earned SEC Player of the Week last season in his start at guard vs. Kentucky.

CENTER

50 Joe Cope (6-0, 276, Sr.)--An early knee injury kept Cope slowed during two-a-days, but he's returned to full strength and ready for his senior season.

68 Jason Bosley (6-4, 279, So.)--Auburn's most improved offensive lineman is now a solid SEC player who is getting better with age, Nall says.

RIGHT GUARD

76 Tim Duckworth (6-4, 318, Sr.)--Duck is expected to be one of the best offensive linemen in the SEC this season.

72 Leon Hart (6-4, 300, Jr.)--The true junior is expected to be a key player for the Tigers even if he does not start.

RIGHT TACKLE

79 Jonathan Palmer (6-4, 325, Sr.)--Finally a regular starter after playing mostly in a backup role the last few seasons, Palmer is primed for a big year at tackle.

72 Leon Hart (6-4, 300, Jr.)--Hart played in 35 plays last season vs. his hometown team, South Carolina, and graded 96 percent.

TIGHT END

87 Cole Bennett (6-4, 261, Sr.)--A veteran of SEC play, Bennett has improved his pass-catching skills and remains one of Auburn's best run blockers.

5 Tommy Trott (6-5, 252, RFr.)--Despite an up and down preseason Trott remains one of Auburn's top receiving threats and is expected line up at several different places this season.

Or

83 Gabe McKenzie (6-4, 255, RFr.)--Another of Auburn's most improved players, McKenzie is catching the ball better than ever and gives the Tigers a physical presence in the running game with his increased size.

QUARTERBACK

12 Brandon Cox (6-2, 201, Jr.)--A season of starting assignments under his belt has Cox looking stronger and more confident heading into the 2006 season.

16 Blake Field (6-2, 207, So.)--Much like Cox, Field has been a more confident quarterback in preseason practices and should be a solid backup because of his experience playing in 2005.

TAILBACK 23 Kenny Irons (5-11, 203, Sr.)--Looking stronger and quicker, Irons could be poised for a big senior season.

1 Brad Lester (5-11, 195, So.)--Auburn's most explosive back has been healthy throughout camp and gives the Tigers the deep threat every time he touches the ball.

FULLBACK

32 Carl Stewart (6-2, 224, Jr.)--Also a threat to carry the ball at tailback in short yardage situations, Stewart has developed his blocking and will get plenty of time at fullback.

47 Andrew Turman (6-0, 230, Jr.)--A true blocking fullback, Turman could get some action in short yardage and goal line situations with Stewart running the ball. He will most likely be in the game when the Tigers run the "I" formation.

Stewart will see action at three different backfield positions for the Tigers.

F-BACK

32 Carl Stewart (6-2, 224, Jr.)—The hybrid position made famous by Ronnie Brown has a similar player in 2006 with Stewart taking over the assignment.

22 Tre Smith (5-11, 195, Sr.)--Back to his old form, the elusive Smith can block, run and catch out of the position and do it all effectively. He could also see action running out of the tailback slot.

WIDE RECEIVER

80 Rodgeriqus Smith (6-2, 184, So.)--The surprise of fall camp switched positions and moved into the starting rotation after a very good scrimmage.

15 Prechae Rodriguez (6-4, 204, Jr.)--After struggling early in fall camp Rodriguez has responded to the challenge from Smith and is coming on as the season draws closer.

Or

13 Tim Hawthorne (6-3, 207, Fr.)--Showing the normal true freshman struggles, Hawthorne has worked hard to learn the offense and should get some playing time against the Cougars.

KICKER

37 John Vaughn (6-1, 197, Sr.)--A stronger leg has Vaughn kicking the ball better than at any point in his Auburn career heading into the 2006 season.

84 Matt Clark (6-1, 194, Sr.)--The surprise of the 2006 in the kicking game after being recruited away from his intramural team, last year's kickoff man has shown he can kick off the ground as well.

HOLDER

20 Matthew Motley (5-10, 167, Jr.)--A returning starter at the position, Motley looks to be rock solid for the Tigers.


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