Options for New AU Lineman

Several of Auburn's offensive lineman signee could play multiple positions for the Tigers.

East Brewton, Ala.--Auburn signed one of the top offensive line classes in the country last Wednesday with the additions of Jared Cooper, Kyle Coulahan, Ryan Pugh, Chaz Ramsey and Lee Ziemba.

One thing that makes this group so highly regarded is the versatility of several of the prospects to play multiple positions on the offensive line at the college level.

Cooper, Pugh and Ziemba played left tackle in high school and Ziemba is the best bet to stay outside once he gets to Auburn. Ramsey, who played guard at Madison Central High School, and Pugh have already played center in postseason all-star games. Coulahan didn't even play offensive line at Pensacola Catholic and could be a tackle on either side of the ball in college. Cooper has the size and athleticism to play all five spots, but where he ends up playing at Auburn is anybody's guess at this point.

"He's a 4.0 guy (GPA) so he's going to be somebody who learns the system relatively quickly," says W.S. Neal High School head coach Blaine Hathcock. "He's got good hands and feet so I think he could play a number of different positions on the offensive line. I think he could possibly even be a center.

"The reason I say that is because Jared is very good at his front recognition, calling out blitz pickup assignments, fronts and blocking assignments," Hathcock adds. "Like I said, he's a 4.0 guy and he's very intelligent. I think he's a guy who could be really good at that. And he's got good hands from being a baseball player so he can snap the football."

However, with Pugh almost a sure bet to be the center is this year's class, that could put Cooper elsewhere. "I feel like he'll probably end up maybe being a guard," Hathcock notes. "I think a lot of times at tackle they like them a little taller than Jared, although Jared is 6-4."

Cooper gave up just two sacks in the last two years playing left tackle in a spread offense. Playing out in space on the end as a high schooler, if he makes the move inside to guard he'll have to get stronger to overpower defensive tackles in one-on-one battles.

"I think his run blocking, his drive blocking, is going to have to get better," Hathcock explains. "I think that will come with him getting stronger and maturing. That's one thing that I think he's going to have to get better at. He's going to have to get better at pure driving. I think he's very advanced as far as his pass protection and his ability to move and run.

"Jared, fortunately, and we feel like he's been well coached here, he has been exposed to a lot of different things because of the number of camps he has been to especially the last three years. He's been to camp at Auburn, Alabama and some different places so he's received some good instruction. Jared is fundamentally very sound. He's not going to be a guy when he comes in that is going to be a project."

Because of Cooper's athleticism and being fundamentally sound, Hathcock adds that one area Cooper has improved on greatly is riding the defender to the whistle and finishing his blocks.

"That's something he improved at a lot between his junior and senior year because Jared has been a three-sport guy," he says. "That tells you something about his athleticism when he was a basketball player and baseball. He gave up basketball, which allowed him to spend more time in the winter in the weight room getting stronger. That helped him finish off blocks and that type of thing. It helped his run blocking.

"I think that's one area that you're going to see when he gets to Auburn that's tremendously improved within a year or maybe two because he won't be playing baseball and he'll be totally focused on football," Hathcock adds. "Jared is going to play at 315 because he's maturing and getting the in the weight room and those kinds of things."

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