Ronney Daniels, Marcel Willis, Ben Obomanu, Devin Aromashodu, to name a few, made solid contributions to the team in their first year on the Plains. It would be too early to peg Quindarius Carr as a redshirt or as a contributor, but the wideout from Hunstville High has been getting the job done during preseason practice.
"He's learning," says position coach Greg Knox. "He's got good tools to work with. Now it's just a mental thing for him. Once he gets to where he's reacting to everything he hears in the huddle instead of thinking about everything he'll be a lot better.
"He's still learning the offense so every day is a new adventure because everyday is a new installation," Knox continues. "Every day he comes out his head swims a little more. In about three more days we'll be done with the installation."
Carr, one of several players fighting for playing time at the ‘X' position behind Rod Smith, agrees with his coach that his biggest liability at this point is the normal growing pains of playing a new ballgame at the college level.
"I think I'm doing all right," Carr says. "I'm just getting down the system, getting down my playbook. It's just an adjustment you've got to get used to. The game speed is not as bad as I expected so I've just got to keep it up."
Carr (6-1, 175) arrived in Auburn early in the summer and was able to feel his way around during voluntary workouts, which he says carried over into the real practice.
"It helped me get used to the system, the speed and the plays," he notes. "Coach Knox says I need to stay precise, study my playbook and watch my film. I need to stay on my route running, stay on top and do what I've been doing."
He hasn't been particularly flashy, but Carr has been getting open and catching the ball when thrown to.
As kickoff against Kansas State is less than four weeks away, questions abound at the receiver spots after the Tigers lost their leading ball catcher Courtney Taylor. Smith has solidified himself as a starter and junior receiver Robert Dunn looks to be headed in that direction at the slot position.
Dunn is a tough matchup in the slot because of his quickness, and he looked impressive in summer workouts in one-on-one drills against Auburn defensive backs. Getting open and making plays in team drills is a whole other task, but Dunn has been up to the challenge and is playing his best football since he's been at Auburn.
"Dunn's been good for us," Knox explains, "not only in a leadership role but also in making plays in practice. He's matured a lot and it's starting to show."
Also impressive in the summer because of his straight-line speed was James Swinton. A player who usually has a strong first couple of weeks in the preseason before fading in the rotation, Swinton has again had a strong first week of drills. The junior has come down with several deep passes and also made a difficult diving catch on an overthrown slant during Monday's workout.
"Swinton's doing a lot better," Knox notes. "I've been excited about his progress. He's gotten better, he's started to make a few more plays so hopefully that will continue.
"He's just got to stay focused. He loses focus every now and then and he's got to stay focused on the little things--technique and fundamentals. I think he got a lot stronger in the offseason. He got stronger and that'll make you more confident in what you're doing."
Redshirt freshman Tim Hawthorne also had a big day on Monday. During 11 on 11 drills, he made a one-handed grab over Patrick Lee on a perfectly thrown fade from Blake Field and he caught a touchdown on a post-corner route from Steven Ensminger.
The Tigers got more good news at the wideout positions on Monday as incoming freshman Chris Slaughter finally got the go-ahead and was cleared by the NCAA. Slaughter could be on the practice field as early as Tuesday.