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APRIL 17, 2014

AUBURN A-DAY GAME

A-DAY 2014 PAGE

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10 PAGE

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High expectations, high rewards ahead for the 2014 Tigers

Auburn Football 2014 Numerical Roster

A look at the battle of Running Back U


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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE 3 A look back at the last roll of Toomer’s Corner

PAGE 8 Plainsman Picks: 2014 Preseason Edition

PAGE 15 Special Teams: New kickers and returners have to step up

PAGE 20 D-Line: Tigers have plenty of options across the front four

PAGE 5 Opinion: High expectations, high rewards ahead for the 2014 Tigers

PAGE 10 Auburn Football 2014 Numerical Roster

PAGE 16 QBs: Marshall ready to lay down the law in 2014

PAGE 21 LBs: Frost and McKinzy look to lead defense in new positions

PAGE 6 A-Day Weekend Schedule

PAGE 11 2013 A-Day Rewind

PAGE 17 WRs: Returning veterans, dynamic newcomers

PAGE 22 DBs: Auburn’s secondary reloads for 2014

PAGE 7 Baseball eyes rebound in important A-Day Weekend series

PAGE 12-13 A look at the Battle of Running Back U

PAGE 18 O-Line: No Robinson, no problem

PAGE 24 See you this fall!

COVER PHOTO: ZACH BLAND / ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

A look back at the last roll April 20, 2013

Photos by Raye May / DESIGN EDITOR

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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

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opinion

High expectations, high rewards ahead for the 2014 Tigers Justin Ferguson Sports editor

Ah, spring. It’s time for warmer weather and even warmer takes about the upcoming college football season. After their unbelievable run to the final BCS National Championship Game last season, Gus Malzahn’s Tigers will most likely start this season as SEC and national title contenders. The pieces are there—breakout quarterback Nick Marshall received a full offseason of extra practices, a majority of Auburn’s offensive starters are back and an athletic defense has another campaign of experience.

Sure, the Tigers will have to find replacements for Heisman finalist Tre Mason, potential Top-5 NFL Draft selection Greg Robinson and Senior Bowl MVP Dee Ford. However, Auburn returns senior running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant, along with a constantly impressive Peyton Barber as part of the nation’s top rushing attack. Teammates say Shon Coleman, a potential for Greg Robinson at left tackle, is as twice as strong as one of the most physically dominant players in this year’s draft class. Auburn’s defensive staff rotated along the defensive line last season, and former blue-chip recruits Elijah Daniel and Carl Lawson could be important edge rushers in

place of Ford. The Tigers have also worked on an intimidating all-defensive tackle set known as the “Rhino” package. While these new starters could be strengths in 2014, there are still some question marks surrounding them. Unlike in 2013, Malzahn’s team will not take anyone teams by surprise in 2014. New rival coach Bret Bielema already has his Arkansas Razorbacks game-planning for their season-opening trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers will now have the targets on their backs. Auburn will also have a tough schedule in 2014. While LSU and Texas A&M come to the Plains this season, the defending SEC champions will go through the “Amen Cor-

ner” stretch of Georgia and Alabama away from home—not to mention a Thursday night clash with Big 12 contenders Kansas State in the Little Apple of Manhattan, Kan. Do I think the Tigers will make it back to the first College Football Playoff this season? Absolutely. Auburn has impressive talent everywhere on offense and a reloaded defense with something to prove from its bitter end at the Rose Bowl in January. Do I think the Tigers will pull off the perfect season? No. There are just enough question marks surrounding this team and a tougher schedule—which would include an extra game in the new playoff system, if Auburn makes it that far—to keep the team away from the

tough task of perfection. However, one SEC loss and an Iron Bowl win could put Auburn back in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game and another shot at the national title. I predict the Tigers will be in line for a repeat next season. Will it be enough to push them to Jerry World in North Texas? Only time will tell, and if recent seasons are any suggestion, there will be plenty of drama on the Plains this season. It’s time to buckle up once again, Auburn. Justin Ferguson is the sports editor at The Auburn Plainsman. You can contact him via e-mail at jdf0014@auburn.edu or on Twitter @JFergusonAU.


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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 3:

No. 3:

Miami 20, Auburn 18

Miami 20, Auburn 18

A-Day schedule

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FRIDAY, APRIL 18 This season-opening matchup 2 p.m. - Track and Field War Eagle Invitational at Hutsell-Rosen Trackfootball powerbetween college 4-6 p.m. - Free Locker Room Tours at Jordan-Hare Stadium houses was filled with bad blood. 5 p.m. - Tiger Trail Induction Program at Auburn Arena When the No. 1 Tigers and the 6 p.m. - Baseball vs. South Carolina at Plainsman Park No. 10 Hurricanes met at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., it

SATURDAY, APRIL 19 was a battle between two sides that 7 and 9:30 a.m. - Bo Bikes Bama Charity Rides at the Jule Museum hadCollins rightfulSmith claim to the 1983 na9 a.m. - Punt, Pass and Kick Contest at Football Complex tional title. Despite having identical 10 a.m. - Coca-Cola Tiger Fan Fest at the Greenspace records, “The U� jumped Auburn in 10:30 a.m. - Photo Opportunity with the Iron Bowl Trophy at Auburn Arena the final AP poll after defeating No. 11 a.m. - Track and Field War Eagle Invitational at Hutsell-Rosen 1 Nebraska inTrack the Orange Bowl. 11:30 a.m. - Kids Easter Egg Hunt and Athletics Alumni BBQ at the Greenspace Unfortunately for Auburn, MiNoon - Jordan-Hare Stadium opens ami quarterback Bernie Kosar had 1 p.m. - Pre-game festivities begin one of the best games of his career, 2 p.m. - A-Day Game Kickoff and the defense that limited future Halftime - 2013 SEC Championship Recognition Heisman winner Bo Jackson to less Post-game - Autograph Session on Pat Dye Field than 100 yards forced a late fumble 4 p.m. - Baseball vs. South Carolina at Plainsman Park SUNDAY, APRIL 20 2 p.m. - Baseball vs. South Carolina at Plainsman Park

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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

baseball

Tigers eyeing rebound in important A-Day Weekend series Kyle Van Fechtmann Sports Reporter

After dropping their third consecutive SEC series at No. 8 Alabama last weekend, Auburn baseball has another tough test waiting for them with a home series this weekend against No. 11 South Carolina. Just like the previous road series in Oxford at Ole Miss, Auburn lost a couple of games in Tuscaloosa in close, heartbreaking fashion. In the game three rubber match, Alabama won the series with a two-out walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth to take the 4-3 lead. “Tough, emotional loss, no doubt about it,” said head

coach Sunny Golloway. “But our guys played really hard. The series could have gone either way with a base hit here or there, we all saw that.” After Alabama’s game two 4-1 wins to tie up the series, Golloway shook up the lineup by starting seven freshmen in the field and giving closer Terrance Dedrick his first career start on the mound. The freshmen-heavy lineup performed well, as they combined for 10 of Auburn’s 12 total hits. Brett Binning made his second career start at second base and went 3-for-4 on the day. Both Anfernee Grier and Connor Short had a pair of hits.

From the sound of his postseason interview, Golloway will continue to focus on developing the talented freshmen class after they performed in a hostile environment at a top-10 program. “We started seven freshmen today, and our freshmen played really well and swung the bat really well,” Golloway said. “(Alabama) has a veteran club, we have a young club, and we’re going to continue to develop our freshmen and build our club.” Auburn won the opening game of the Alabama series in a close 2-1 pitcher’s duel, and Golloway was satisfied with his two pitchers, Dillon Ortman and Keegan Thompson.

“(Ortman) was terrific,” Golloway said. “As far as consistency, we might have the best Friday night guy in the league. He doesn’t try to do too much. “He pounds the zone. He pitches with courage.” Thompson was expected to be the usual Saturday starter, but he stepped up when the team needed him to while coming out of the bullpen for the first time of his college career and throwing two shutdown innings with five strikeouts to earn the save. “My adrenaline was pumping coming in,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to go out there and get it done for Dillon. He pitched his ass off.”

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Despite the close road win over their rival, Golloway was not pleased with the team’s overall level of play, as Auburn also left the bases loaded three times throughout the game. “We’re just a much better team than what we played tonight,” Golloway said. “I know it’s a tough environment and everything. But we defended very well and we pitched it really well.” Although Auburn has fallen out of the top 25 rankings and lost their last three SEC series, they will look to bounce back and upset the No. 11 Gamecocks in front of a large home Plainsman Park crowd this A-Day weekend.

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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

football

Plainsman Picks: 2014 College Football Preseason Edition 2014 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SEMIFINALISTS

2014 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SEMIFINALISTS

Justin Ferguson Sports Editor

Heisman Winner: MARCUS MARIOTA, OREGON

Taylor Jones Sports Writer

Eric Wallace Sports Reporter

Heisman Winner: MARCUS MARIOTA, OREGON

David McKinney Sports Writer

Heisman Winner: TODD GURLEY, GEORGIA

Graham Brooks Contributing Writer

Heisman Winner: NICK MARSHALL, AUBURN

Kyle Van Fechtmann Sports Reporter

Heisman Winner: NICK MARSHALL, AUBURN

Heisman Winner: NICK MARSHALL, AUBURN

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

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2014 A-Day Game Numerical Roster 1 Montravius Adams DT 6-4 306 So. Vienna, Ga. (Dooly County HS) 1 D’haquille Williams WR 6-2 216 Jr. LaPlace, La. (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC) 3 Jonathan Jones DB 5-10 182 Jr. Carrollton, Ga. (Carrollton HS) 3 Dominic Walker WR 6-1 217 RFr. Orlando, Fla. (Evans HS) 4 Quan Bray WR 5-10 187 Sr. LaGrange, Ga. (Troup County HS) 5 Ricardo Louis WR 6-2 212 Jr. Miami Beach, Fla. (Miami Beach HS) 6 Jonathan Mincy DB 5-10 200 Sr. East Atlanta, Ga. (SW Dekalb HS) 6 Jeremy Johnson QB 6-5 223 So. Montgomery, Ala. (Carver HS) 8 Cassanova McKinzy LB 6-3 249 Jr. Birmingham, Ala. (Woodlawn HS) 8 Tony Stevens WR 6-4 198 So. Orlando, Fla. (Evans HS) 9 Jermaine Whitehead DB 5-11 193 Sr. Greenwood, Miss. (Amanda Elzy HS) 10 LaDarius Owens DL 6-2 259 Sr. Bessemer, Ala. (Jess Lanier HS) 10 Stanton Truitt WR 5-9 175 Fr. Atlanta, Ga. (Monroe Area HS) 11 Brandon Fulse TE 6-4 272 Sr. Fort Meade, Fla. (Fort Meade HS) 12 Jonathan Wallace QB 6-2 207 Jr. Phenix City, Ala. (Central HS) 12 Mack VanGorder DB 6-1 201 Jr. Gainesville, Ga. (North Hall HS) 14 Nick Marshall QB 6-1 210 Sr. Pineview, Ga. (Garden City CC) 15 Joshua Holsey DB 5-11 192 Jr. Fairburn, Ga. (Creekside HS) 16 JaViere Mitchell LB 6-2 203 So. Leeds, Ala. (Leeds HS) 16 Tucker Tuberville QB 6-0 180 So. Auburn, Ala. (Texas Tech) 17 Kris Frost LB 6-2 234 Jr. Matthews, N.C. (Butler HS) 17 Ben Durand QB 6-3 205 Jr. Tyngsborough, Mass. (Tyngsborough HS) 18 Sammie Coates WR 6-2 201 Jr. Leroy, Ala. (Leroy HS) 20 Corey Grant RB 5-11 203 Sr. Opelika, Ala. (Opelika HS) 21 Mackenro Alexander DB 5-11 203 So. Immokalee, Fla. (Immokalee HS) 22 Khari Harding DB 6-0 224 So. Edmond, Okla. (Edmond HS) 23 Johnathan Ford DB 6-0 199 So. Big Cove, Ala. (New Hope HS) 24 Derrick Moncrief DB 6-2 218 Jr. Pratville, Ala. (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC) 25 Trovon Reed DB 6-0 188 Sr. Thibodaux, La. (Thibodaux HS) 25 Peyton Barber RB 5-11 225 RFr. Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton HS) 26 Justin Garrett LB 6-1 224 Jr. Tucker, Ga. (Tucker HS) 27 Robenson Therezie DB 5-9 212 Sr. Miami, Fla. (Jackson HS) 28 T.J. Davis DB 6-1 196 So. Tallahassee, Fla. (Godby HS) 28 Jimmy Hutchinson P 6-2 198 RFr. Marietta, Ga. (Harrison HS) 29 Brandon King DB 6-1 213 Sr. Alabaster, Ala. (Highland CC) 29 Tyler Stovall P 6-1 207 RFr. Hokes Bluff , Ala. (Hokes Bluff HS) 30 Damian Lewis RB 5-9 201 So. Wetumpka Ala. (Wetumpka HS) 31 Mark White WR 5-10 168 So. Pike Road, Ala. (Trinity Presbyterian HS) 32 Wade Norberg TE 6-6 216 Jr. South Lake Tahoe, Cal. (Santa Barbara CC) 32 Nosakhere Griggs DB 5-10 149 Jr. Fayetteville, Ga. (Sandy Creek HS) 33 Kenny Flowers LB 6-1 230 Jr. Lilburn, Ga. (Hutchinson CC) 33 Niko Anthony DB 6-1 203 Sr. Lithia, Fla. (Newsome HS) 35 Ricky Parks FB 6-3 268 So. Hogansville, Ga. (Callaway HS) 36 Michael Sherwood DB 5-8 170 RFr. Fairburn, Ga. (Creekside HS) 37 Kamryn Melton DB 5-10 182 So. Dothan, Ala. (Dothan HS) 38 Daniel Carlson K 6-4 216 RFr. Colorado Springs, Colo. (Classical Academy) 39 B.J. Trimble WR 5-10 165 Jr. Fayetteville, Ga. (Sandy Creek HS) 39 Alex Kviklys K 6-1 191 Jr. Marietta, Ga. (Pope HS) 40 Gage Batten FB 6-0 232 So. Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (Dwyer HS) 40 Daniel Pond LB 6-1 207 Jr. Spanish Fort, Ala. (Spanish Fort HS) 41 Patrick Lymon RB 5-10 191 Sr. Huntsville, Ala. (Sparkman HS)

42 Gimel President DL 6-4 259 So. Mt. Pleasant, S.C. (Wando HS) 42 Blake Chapman WR 5-10 178 RFr. Huntsville, Ala. (Sparkman HS) 43 Spencer Smith TE 6-6 240 So. Birmingham, Ala. (Vestavia Hills HS) 43 Anthony Swain LB 6-2 249 Jr. Gadsden, Ala. (Gadsden City HS) 44 Cameron Artis-Payne RB 5-11 210 Sr. Harrisburg, Pa. (Allan Hancock JC) 45 Keymiya Harrell DL 6-4 256 Jr. Selma, Ala. (Dallas County HS) 45 Andrew Williams RB 5-9 201 Sr. Sunfl ower, Ala. (Leroy HS) 46 Lawyer Tillman RB 6-0 200 Jr. Lacey, Wash. (Southern Oregon) 47 Chris Laye TE 6-4 236 Fr. Cumming, Ga. (Lambert HS) 47 Cameron Toney LB 6-1 243 RFr. Huntsville, Ala. (Huntsville HS) 48 Forrest Hill DS 6-1 248 Sr. Jonesboro, Ga. (Morrow HS) 49 Patrick Young FB 6-2 230 Jr. Trussville, Ala. (Hewitt-Trussville HS) 50 Ben Bradley DL 6-1 303 Sr. Norcross, Ga. (Hutchinson CC) 50 Reese Dismukes OL 6-3 295 Sr. Spanish Fort, Ala. (Spanish Fort HS) 51 Patrick Miller OL 6-7 289 Jr. West Palm Beach, Fla. (Dwyer HS) 52 Xavier Dampeer OL 6-2 296 Jr. Mendenhal, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC) 53 Devonte Danzey OL 6-4 296 Jr. Tampa, Fla. (Hutchinson CC) 54 Jeff rey Whitaker DL 6-4 322 Sr. Warner Robins, Ga. (Warner Robins HS) 55 Carl Lawson DL 6-2 261 So. Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton HS) 56 Avery Young OL 6-6 309 So. Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (P. B. Gardens HS) 58 Jonathan Parslow DS 6-0 185 RFr. Daphne, Ala. (Daphne HS) 60 Alec Brown DL 6-2 210 RFr. Trussville, Ala. (Hewitt-Trussville HS) 61 Michael Sulka DS 6-3 240 So. Bluff ton, S.C. (Bluff ton HS) 62 Chad Slade OL 6-5 315 Sr. Moody, Ala. (Moody HS) 63 Alex Kozan OL 6-4 300 So. Castle Rock, Colo. (Valor Christian HS) 64 Duncan McKinney K 5-11 182 Jr. Florence, Ala. (Florence HS) 67 Chase Robison DL 6-4 242 So. Memphis, Tenn. (Texas Tech) 68 Kyle Bolstad OL 6-4 280 So. Brentwood, Tenn. (Ravenwood HS) 70 Robert Leff OL 6-6 286 So. Fairhope, Ala. (Fairhope HS) 72 Shon Coleman OL 6-6 310 So. Memphis, Tenn. (Olive Branch HS) 74 Will Adams OL 6-7 296 So. Tyrone, Ga. (Sandy Creek HS) 75 Deon Mix OL 6-4 298 RFr. Batesville, Miss. (South Panola HS) 76 Jordan Diamond OL 6-6 318 So. Chicago, Ill. (Simeon HS) 77 Shane Callahan OL 6-6 304 So. Parker, Colo. (Chaparral HS) 79 Joshua Thompson OL 6-2 317 RFr. Dothan, Ala. (Rehobeth HS) 80 Marcus Davis WR 5-9 174 So. Delray Beach, Fla. (American Heritage) 81 C.J. Uzomah TE 6-4 264 Sr. Suwanee, Ga. (North Gwinnett HS) 82 Melvin Ray WR 6-3 207 Jr. Tallahassee, Fla. (North Florida Christian HS) 83 Michael Clifton TE 6-3 250 So. Evans, Ga. (Augusta Christian HS) 84 Jack Bjork P 6-1 196 RFr. Dallas, Texas (Highland Park HS) 85 Wirth Campbell TE 6-3 211 Jr. Nashville, Tenn. (Ensworth HS) 86 Dimitri Reese WR 5-11 180 Sr. Birmingham, Ala. (Clay-Chalkville HS) 87 Gray King WR 5-10 171 RFr. Atlanta, Ga. (Marist School) 89 Jaylon Denson WR 6-3 218 Jr. Hoover, Ala. (Hoover HS) 90 Gabe Wright DL 6-3 284 Sr. Columbus, Ga. (Carver HS) 91 Tyler Nero DL 6-2 277 So. Atmore, Ala. (Escambia County HS) 93 JaBrian Niles DL 6-2 300 Jr. Mobile, Ala. (Davidson HS) 96 Aaron Garrison DL 6-2 260 RFr. Ozark, Ala. (Carroll HS) 97 Elijah Daniel DL 6-2 263 So. Avon, Ind. (Avon HS) 98 Angelo Blackson DL 6-4 306 Sr. Bear, Dela. (Red Lion Christian HS) 99 Brian Walsh DL 6-3 315 Jr. Winter Springs, Fla. (Winter Springs HS)


Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

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2013 a-day rewind

The day the Gus Bus officially started rolling Eric Wallace Sports reporter

The historic 2013 A-Day game sure does seem like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Fresh off the worst season in program history, Auburn’s first A-Day under head coach Gus Malzahn coincided with the sending off of the Toomer’s Oaks. These two landmark events on the same day resulted in a spring game that was attended by 83,401 fans, a nation-high and Auburn school record. As far as the game itself, very little of what the Tigers displayed on the field that spring day made a SEC Championship seem likely. One of the biggest questions leading into the game was who, if anyone, would make a

statement in the quarterback competition. Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace took the majority of snaps at the quarterback position for the Tigers. Future starter Nick Marshall had yet to even reach campus, and neither of the upperclassmen did much to create separation as Malzahn looked for his first quarterback as the head coach of the Tigers. Wallace had a solid day, going 11-of-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown, but the junior also had an interception and had the first snap of the day go over his head for a scoop-andscore defensive touchdown. While Marshall had yet to make his way to the Plains, another JUCO transfer quickly established himself as a potential threat out of the backfield. JUCO running back Cameron Artis-Payne rushed 13 times for 98 yards and made some big plays receiving the ball out of the back-

field. Incumbent starter Tre Mason, who rushed for 1,000 yards despite the team’s 3-9 record in 2012, did not see much action in the 2013 spring game. At the wide receiver position, several players were vying for their share of passes, after the departure of leading receiver Emory Blake. Ricardo Louis snagged eight catches for 66 yards in last year’s A-Day game, seven yards less than the 73 he’d eventually go during The Miracle in Jordan-Hare. Louis, Quan Bray, Sammie Coates and Jaylon Denson were among the favored targets for Frazier and Wallace that day. In hindsight, the defensive star of the 2013 A-Day game ended up having a minimal impact for the Tigers on their run to the BCS National Championship. Justin Garrett manned the “Star” position

in Ellis Johnson’s 4-2-5 system that day and was making plays all over the field, including the aforementioned scoop-and-score to open the game. The defensive line was a shade of what was to come, as talented freshmen Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams and Elijah Daniel had yet to arrive on campus. Overall, the 2013 A-Day game will likely be remembered for off the field reasons as opposed to the product that was on Pat Dye Field that afternoon. Little did anyone know at the time that Jordan-Hare Stadium was soon to become a theater of dreams for Auburn’s record-breaking fan base. Eric Wallace is a sports reporter at The Auburn Plainsman. You can contact him via e-mail at sports@theplainsman.com or on Twitter @EWall14.


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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

COREY GRANT Zach Bland / Assistant photo editor

Raye May / DESIGN EDITOR

Cameron Artis-Payne


Thursday, April 17, 2014

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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

The Battle of Running Back U Two seniors, a former scout team star and a 5-star recruit fight to be No. 1 Taylor Jones SPORTS WRITER

As spring rolls onto the Plains, the Auburn football team has been left with a dilemma. Who will replace Tre Mason? After Mason declared for the NFL Draft, the conversation began as to who would be the Tigers No. 1 for next season. The competition will be fierce, with the Tigers returning four running backs, three with experience from last year. Senior Cameron Artis-Payne joined the Tigers before last season as the No. 1 JUCO back in the nation. Artis-Payne saw the majority of last season’s action in the first several games, before Mason was named the starter, and was able to accumulate 610 yards and 6 touchdowns on 91 carries. Artis-Payne is seen by many as the favorite for the starting job, given his experience and ability to run through the tackles. Artis-Payne won last year’s A-Day MVP award and said he hopes to do the same this year. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has high praises for Artis-Payne. “(Artis-Payne) practices like a pro,” Lashlee said. “He doesn’t have bad days. He’s always attentive. He’s always trying to get better.” While Artis-Payne has the lead in experience on his fellow Auburn backs, the competition will be fierce, and he said he believes that the battle is a good thing. “You’ve got a bunch of a good running backs in a room, and everybody’s trying to push each other,” Artis-Payne said. “Everybody wants to be the guy to step up and be the lead back. It’s a healthy competition. We all feed off of it.” Senior Corey Grant also saw a de-

cent amount of playing time in 2013 at the speed-back role. On 66 carries, Grant accumulated 647 yards and 6 touchdowns. While Grant will most likely not take the starting role, he will almost assuredly be an integral part in Auburn’s run game and is happy with his role as the speed back. “It’s kind of to my advantage,” Grant said. “My speed is a little bit more of me than power, but I accept that role and like that role.” While Grant is largely known for his speed, the team knows him for his strength. Head coach Gus Malzahn is impressed with what Grant has done in his tenure on the plains. “He’s very physical,” Malzahn said. “He’s one of our stronger guys in the weight room, and he’s a veteran guy, too.” Sophomore offensive lineman Alex Kozan is also impressed with Grant, calling him a “freak athlete.” “Pound for pound, I’d say he’s probably the strongest guy on our team,” Kozan said. “A lot of those speed guys, they’re not really tough, but Corey’s one of the toughest.” Sophomore Johnathan Ford moved to cornerback last year to help with the secondary’s depth issues, but Ford is also probably in the mix for the running back race. Last year, Ford was able to get in against Western Carolina, having a breakout game and running the ball six times for 73 yards and a touchdown. Peyton Barber, who redshirted last year, has also generated a lot of buzz with his work ethic in the past year. Barber even got some pretty serious accolades from Tre Mason. “[Barber] is probably, skill wise, the best out of all of us,” Mason said. “That guy is good. He’s very consistent when he’s scrimmaging.”

Barber originally committed to Ole Miss, but was persuaded by high school teammate and Auburn defensive star Carl Lawson to flip to Auburn. While redshirting last year, Barber was able to gain valuable experience using the year to improve. Tight end C.J. Uzomah has high hopes for Barber. “I’ve been hearing from some of the defense that Peyton is untouchable,” Uzomah said. “Going against our first team all last year helps him tremendously as a running back.” While the stable of backs returning is already strong, the Tigers will bolster their strength with the addition of Racean “Roc” Thomas and Kamryn Pettway. Thomas, out of Oxford High School, was a five-star prospect who put up crazy numbers in his senior year of high school ball, running the ball 226 times for 2,211 yards and 32 touchdowns. Thomas brings elusiveness and power, and will have the chance to compete immediately for this next season’s running back job. Thomas was named to the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and to the 2014 Under Armour All-American game. Thomas was also named the 2013 Alabama Player of the Year and was second-team All-USA by USA Today in 2013. The Tigers signed long-time commitment Kamryn Pettway out of nearby Prattville High School. Pettway has clocked a 4.46 40-yard dash time, and was listed as a three-star recruit, running the ball 169 times for 1,402 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior season with Prattville. Artis-Payne, Grant, Barber and Thomas — the battle to be the best back at Auburn is just getting started.

Contributed by Lauren Barnard

PEYTON BARBER


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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Veranda

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Auburn Crossing Condos


Thursday, April 17, 2014

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The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

2014 SEASON PREVIEW: Special teams

New kickers and returners have to step up in 2014

Kyle Van Fechtmann sports REPORTER

Special teams is one of the only position units where multiple new faces are fighting for starting spots since kicker Cody Parkey, punter Steven Clark and kick returner Iron Bowl hero Chris Davis all graduated. Redshirt freshman Daniel Carlson is expected to be the starting kicker next season for the Tigers. Both Scout and Rivals.com ranked Carlson No. 4 in the nation among kickers in his graduating class coming out of high school. Redshirt freshman Jimmy Hutchinson will be the starting punter next year after traveling last season as a backup behind Clark. Hutchinson was ranked the No. 1 punter in the country by Kohl’s

Kicking Academy after averaging 39.2 yards per punt his senior season at Harrison High School in Marietta, Ga. Throughout these spring practices, head coach Gus Malzahn and special teams coach Scott Fountain have focused on giving Carlson and Hutchinson practice by kicking in game situation scenarios to the potential returners. “We put the kickers in some situations as game-like as possible with the pressure on,” Malzahn said. “I think they’ve responded fairly well with that. We also tried to do that with our punter and our deep snapper.” According to Malzahn, Fountain has had about eight to 10 players rotating getting a chance to receive

We put the kickers in some situations as game-like as possible with the pressure on. I think they’ve responded fairly well with that.” —Gus Malzahn head coach

punts and kicks this spring. “Rotating guys, it’s hard to single one out right now,” Malzahn said after the first week of spring practices. “We’ll get a chance to see some guys return some in a live setting.”

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That list of potential punt returners looking to replace Davis for next season includes Quan Bray, Marcus Davis, Ricardo Louis and D’haqulle Williams. “We have a lot of positions up for grabs and punt returner is one of them,” Malzahn said. “We’ve got a pretty big list of guys that want to have the opportunity to do that and so this spring will be good to see who comes out in that area.” Out of that list Bray has the most experience at punt returner as he led the team his freshman year in 2011 average punt return yardage and also received numerous punts in 2012 and last season. The kick returner spots are also open since Davis graduated and Tre Mason entered the NFL Draft.

Auburn’s fastest running back Corey Grant is confident though that he will be the No. 1 kick returner for the Tigers next season. That means the No. 2 kick returner spot next to Grant is also up for grabs. The kick returner list consists of returning players like Cameron Artis-Payne, Louis and Therezie, who have all gotten opportunities to showcase their return abilities in a live setting this spring. Grant is also confident one of his teammates will be able to hold the responsibility beside him. “Just whoever is going to block,” Grant said to the Montgomery Advertiser. “All of them are great guys, so it doesn’t really matter, just whoever is going to get the job done.”

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16

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 SEASON PREVIEW: Quarterbacks

Marshall ready to lay down the law in 2014 Kyle Van Fechtmann sports reporter

Auburn running back Tre Mason made it to New York City as a Heisman finalist in 2013. Now, in 2014, Nick Marshall could be the next Auburn star to vie for the famous stiff-arm trophy. Marshall exploded onto the SEC scene last season and has looked much more comfortable as the first returning starting quarterback in Malzahn’s hurry-up, no huddle offense. “It’s just the way he’s carrying himself,” Malzahn said. “You can just tell he’s getting more comfortable. The game is a lot slower for him, I’d say.” Marshall has used his first spring at Auburn to his advantage in order 319 9.54x5.0 Newspaper Ad to perfect the Tigers’ fast-paced of-

fense. “Coming into the spring coming off last season, the expectation this year is high,��� Marshall said. “I know everything about the offense now. I’m just playing ball right now and executing the plays well.” Auburn led the country in rushing yards last season, but next season, the offense is expected to throw the ball more. Marshall is confident in his passing abilities and is looking forward to throwing more next season. “I’m excited about that because I like throwing the ball,” Marshall said. “But when it comes down to it, we still are going to run the football. We’ve got more receivers coming in, so that gives us more weapons on offense.” L.pdf 1 4/15/14 10:56 AM The coaches want Marshall to

have at least a 65 percent completion percentage next season, which only four starting quarterbacks have done in Auburn history. “It shouldn’t be a goal, because like I said the expectations for us are higher this year,” Marshall said. “I’m just trying to do what the coaches tell me and then just complete the passes like they want me to.” Marshall’s knowledge and confidence in the offense gives the rest of the team confidence by having a leader they know they can rely on. “He knows what Coach Malzahn or Coach Lashlee is going to call in certain situations and kind of understands what play works,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said. “Having that and having that confidence in himself brings out everything in us.”

zach bland / assistant photo editor

Nick Marshall sidesteps a Missouri defender in the 2013 SEC title game.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

17

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

2014 SEASON PREVIEW:Wide receivers

Returning veterans, dynamic newcomers highlight Tigers’ receiving corps Eric Wallace sports reporter

Finding a true aerial threat to line up opposite Sammie Coates was a never-ending carousel in 2013. A committee approach saw Ricardo Louis, Marcus Davis, Quan Bray and eventually Melvin Ray step up and make an impact in various key moments. While the lack of a true number-two receiver was overcome by a record-breaking rushing attack last year, a fresh batch of receiving talent and returning quarterback depth have Gus Malzahn and company savoring over Auburn’s aerial potential in 2014. Number one JUCO recruit D’haquille Williams, freshman speedster Stanton Truitt and a healthy Tony Stevens will join Coates, Louis, Bray and Ray in a crowded wide receiver field. “We’ve got depth now, we’ve got size and we’ve got speed,” offensive coordinator Rhett

jenna burgess / staff photographer

Sammie Coates strides into the end zone for a touchdown against Florida Atlantic last season.

Lashlee said. “That’s all three pretty good things to have. I would hope that could become a strength for us.”

It hasn’t taken long for Williams to show his new teammates the level of talent he’ll bring to the table as the Tigers hunt for anoth-

er SEC Championship. “He’s a freak, he’s a monster,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said. “I’m not sure if I’ve seen someone have as much presence attacking the ball. He’s making unbelievable catches down the field and making plays with his feet.” Lashlee said he thinks the addition of Williams and Stevens, who are 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4 respectively, to the physical duo of Coates and Louis will give Auburn versatility in its passing game. “That’s four pretty big guys that all can go make plays on the ball, whether it’s on deep balls, in the middle of the field or in the red zone,” Lashlee said. One person who is particularly pleased with the additions in the receiving department is quarterback Nick Marshall, who will likely be the first quarterback to start two seasons under Malzahn. “We’ve got great receivers,” Marshall said. “It’s going to be sick watching us this year.”

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18

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 SEASON PREVIEW: offensive line

No Robinson, no problem for this experienced unit Taylor Jones sports writer

While the Auburn Tigers offensive line is losing Greg Robinson to the NFL Draft, the line is still one of the most experienced units on the team. Senior center Reese Dismukes anchors the line with experience, with this upcoming season being his fourth consecutive year starting at center. “It’s good having so many guys back, especially that started last year,” Dismukes said. “We have been able to go out there and know what’s going on and really just perfect techniques and work on getting better and gelling every day.” With a line that is so familiar with each other, it shouldn’t be a difficult

task to form a cohesive unit. Sophomore Avery Young is expected to start at the right tackle position, with junior Patrick Miller and sophomore Shon Coleman battling for the left tackle job. After missing three seasons due to his diagnosis with Leukemia in 2010, Coleman has put on some weight and has impressed teammates with his strength. “If you ever thought Greg (Robinson) was strong, you’ve got another thing coming,” said defensive tackle Gabe Wright. “Shon is probably two times stronger than Greg.” Miller, a 6-foot-7, 289-pound junior started the first five games last season, before losing his starting job to Young. With Robinson’s departure, Miller will be looking to use his

massive frame to his advantage to earn a spot on the line. After taking Miller’s starting job last season, Young made himself a valuable asset to the line, becoming a permanent fixture for the Tigers offensive line for the remainder of the 2013 season. The Tigers also return three guards with experience. Sophomore Alex Kozan started last season for the Tigers at left guard, with junior Devonte Danzey backing him up. “(We) have definitely improved this spring,” Kozan said. “Overall as a unit, I think we’ve got a lot of depth, as much as anyone in the nation.” At right guard, senior Chad Slade will look to continue his role as a fix-

emily enfinger / assistant photo editor

Auburn’s offensive linemen go through footwork drills this spring.

ture on the offensive line, having started 36 games for the Tigers. As the Tigers look to protect their quarterback and open up lanes for

the running game, this group of experienced veterans will look to take the extra step and help bring home the title this season.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

19


20

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 SEASON PREVIEW: Defensive line

Tigers have plenty of options across the front four this season

Graham Brooks

contributing writer

Auburn will have the tall task of replacing Dee Ford, Nosa Eguae, Craig Sanders and Kenneth Carter along the defensive line but Auburn still has plenty of star power returning in 2014. Of the many players returning for Auburn on the defensive line, sophomores Carl Lawson, Elijah Daniel and Montravius Adams are looking to make immediate impacts after all three had impressive debuts for Auburn as freshman in 2013. Counter that with the senior leadership of Gabe Wright and Jeffrey Whitaker returning with plenty of experience and this defensive line could make a lot of noise in 2014. “As a defensive unit, we are so athletic,” said Lawson. “Everyone on D-end and D-tackle can go back and forth between two positions. Elijah has been working hard as always. He’s trying to get his fundamentals

right, same thing as me. Just working hard to get better that’s all he can do. Mon is a freaky athlete.” In spring practice this year Auburn has tried rotating three different sets of only defensive tackles. The name “Rhino Package” was coined after senior Gabe Wright ran the idea across position coach Rodney Garner. Returning senior tight-end C.J. Uzomah has liked what he’s seen so far in the Rhino package and explained the problems Auburn could cause for other SEC opponents who rely heavily on big offensive lines and dual tight-end sets. “That’s something completely different than blocking against like Dee, someone who’s extremely quick and fast,” said Uzomah. “Blocking against someone like Gabe and Montravius, they’re [huge].” Even with their success last season, the defensive line has problems it wants to fix in 2014.

zach bland / assistant photo editor

Defensive end Carl Lawson sacks Johnny Manziel in Auburn’s upset win against Texas A&M last season.

“As a defensive unit, we need to establish more communication,” said Lawson. “We had a lot of problems with that last year. It’s a big

spring for me because last year I was a little bit disappointed about my performance, and I can’t wait to get better.”


Thursday, April 17, 2014

21

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

2014 SEASON PREVIEW: linebackers

Frost and McKinzy look to lead defense in new positions David McKinney sports writer

Things are starting to take shape in Auburn’s defensive midfield. According to redshirt freshman Cameron Toney, Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost have stepped into leadership roles in the linebacker corps this spring. “They’re great leaders, [and] I look up to them,” Toney said. “I basically look up to those guys, and I’m in a great position to help those guys out this year.” Toney, who will see his first onfield action this year, has been adjusting well this spring after spending his freshman year taking most of his reps in the scout team. “Cameron Toney has caught on pretty well,” said defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. “When you put

them on the scout team and decide to redshirt them, they don’t get as many reps at your base defense. “He’s almost going to back to square one learning what he’s doing. He’s had a pretty solid spring.” Frost and McKinzy recently underwent a position swap, which Frost said both players are getting along well with the change. McKinzy led the team in tackles last season as Auburn’s starter at weakside linebacker, while Frost backed up the recently departed Jake Holland at middle linebacker. “I have traits of an outside linebacker, and Cass has traits of a middle linebacker,” Frost said. “We’re adjusting to it well.” Frost also said that McKinzy is doing a good job being the “quarterback” of the defense as the new

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I have traits of an outside linebacker, and Cass has traits of a middle linebacker. We’re adjusting to it well.” —Kris Frost

junior weakside linebacker

middle linebacker. “Cass is doing a really good job with all the calls and making sure the defense is where we need to be and everything,” Frost said. Frost also talked about how much he has liked the move as a player. “I’m really enjoying it,” Frost said. “I’m enjoying having the op-

portunity to fly around and not really think so much, but just reading and feeling so comfortable with the defense.” Hard-hitting redshirt freshman Khari Harding also just underwent a position change, switching from safety to linebacker. “He’s got good body size to play linebacker,” Frost said. “He’s fast; he moves well from playing safety. His drops are really good. It’s good seeing him here.” Despite the solid spring the linebackers have been having, Johnson still has his worries as fall approaches. “None of them have really jumped out and [done] anything dynamic,” Johnson said. “But I feel like I’m gaining confidence in all of them.”

Johnson claimed depth as one of the main problems he sees with his linebacker corps. “I’m not sure we’re going to have that many guys,” Johnson said. “If we get into a situation in the fall where I only feel like we’ve got three guys that are ready, I won’t have the availability to play those guys at Mike or Will.” Johnson said he believes if the depth situation works out, he will be able to play who needs to play in the position they need to be in. “I want the third best guy on the field with them wherever he is,” Johnson said. “If we develop some better depth, I see Cassanova at the Mike and Kris at the Will.” With several starters leaving after last season, the linebackers will have their work cut out for them.

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22

The Auburn Plainsman: A-Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 SEASON PREVIEW: Defensive backs

Bigger, faster, stronger: Auburn’s secondary reloads for the 2014 season Eric Wallace sports reporter

Few position groups were more rocked by graduation this spring than the Auburn secondary. Senior defensive backs Chris Davis, Ryan White and Ryan Smith all departed from a secondary that was 100th in the nation in passing yards allowed in 2013. That said, Ellis Johnson’s secondary group will return in 2014 with a number of athletes with SEC experience. “The (Jermaine) Whiteheads, the (Joshua) Holseys, the guys that have been back there, we know what they can do,” Johnson said. “It’s a matter of them just continuing to improve their craft and to get better as leaders and players.” In addition to Holsey, who is returning from an ACL injury suffered against Texas A&M, and Whitehead, defensive backs Robenson Therezie and Jonathon Mincy are each

returning for their senior season. “I don’t really think we have a ‘quote-unquote’ leader,” Whitehead said. “I think it’s just the guy who wants what’s best for the team, what’s best for the defense, who’s been here, who knows what it’s supposed to look like.” While the upperclassmen have already proven their worth to coaches, spring practice has also allowed new faces to show their potential. One name making early waves is former No. 1 JUCO safety Derrick Moncrief. “Moncrief has been an extremely pleasant surprise,” Johnson said. “When you get a junior college player who’s not played in your system, you always wonder how long it is going to take him to transition.” One secondary player hoping to make a name for himself in 2014 is Jonathan Jones, who is coming off another injury. Finally, former wide receiver Trovon Reed

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Jonathon Mincy flexes for Auburn’s fans during the Tigers’ blowout win at Tennessee last season.

has had a steep learning curve after his offseason switch to cornerback, but coaches are confident the senior can carve out a role.

“Trovon has had a really good camp,” Johnson said. “We think he’s going to help us tremendously.”


Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

SEE YOU THIS FALL


The Auburn Plainsman 04.17.14 A-Day issue