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Tray Mathews

Tray Mathews

Auburn opens 2017 spring practice

Year five of the Gus Malzahn era began Tuesday as Auburn opened spring practice.

“We’re excited to start spring practice today,” Malzahn said. “Our team is in a great spot. We had some very good mat drills and we had some leaders step up. I know they are excited to be out there with their coaches.”

Malzahn said his three goals for the spring are for his players to have a full understanding of the base offense and defense, to identify the strengths in all three phases of the game and for each individual player to improve.

Malzahn also announced several player updates prior to the start of practice. Running back Stephen Davis Jr. and defensive back Markell Boston are both no longer part of the Auburn program. Wide receivers Darius Slayton (hernia surgery) and Kyle Davis (personal business) are both out through spring break.

Quarterback Sean White will also be out for the spring as he recovers from his broken arm that occurred in Auburn’s 35-19 Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma. Freshman linebacker K.J. Britt is also out for the entirety of spring after a “procedure done on his leg.” Jayvaughn Myers and Jamel Dean will also miss spring practice as they recover from injuries.

Cancer survivors Brodarious Hamm and Tashawn Manning have both been cleared to participate in spring practice for the Tigers as they begin their college careers.

Malzahn said that all five quarterbacks, Jarrett Stidham, John Franklin III, Woody Barrett, Tyler Queen and Malik Willis, will begin spring practice dividing reps, but they will be narrowed down as the spring progresses.

“That is going to be the challenge early on, to make sure to give all of those guys reps so that Chip can properly evaluate those guys,” Malzahn said. “Obviously, you can’t go through spring with five quarterbacks; you have to narrow things down and I know that is part of (Lindsey’s) plan.”

Malzahn said that Franklin will begin the spring as a quarterback, but he did not rule out a position change for him.

“John is open to helping the team with whatever, but we just felt strong that he should start out and try to win the job at quarterback, and so that’s what we’ll do,” Malzahn said.

Malzahn also discussed Auburn’s offensive line plans as they enter the spring. Braden Smith will start at right tackle, while Mike Horton will begin at right guard. Marquel Harrell and Darius James will anchor the left side at guard and tackle, respectively. Austin Golson will remain at center for the Tigers. Malzahn also noted that Tyler Carr, Prince Tega Wanogho and Prince Michael Sammons will be ready to contribute.

Malzahn also spoke about how new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will add to the Auburn offense. Although he plans to add new dimensions to the playbook, Lindsey knows that Auburn has to effectively run the ball, Malzahn noted.

“He’s just going to add some bells, whistles and flair to what we’re doing,” Malzahn said. “I really expect our offense to start taking on his personality. At the same time, he knows we have to run the football effectively. We’re going to keep what we’ve done very well, and he’s going to add to it…Our goal is to be more balanced. We needed that over the last two years.”

Auburn will continue spring practice throughout March and conclude on Saturday, April 8 with A-Day. Kickoff inside Jordan-Hare Stadium is set for 1 p.m. CST. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.


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