AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s massive depth at defensive line has taken a hit a third of the way through the regular season.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday junior defensive end Paul James III “could be out for the season” after suffering a knee injury last week in practice.
“It was kind of a freak drill,” Malzahn said. “He was really doing a good job and improving. But it looks like he’ll be out for the rest of the season.”
James was listed as a co-backup with sophomore Byron Cowart at Auburn’s traditional defensive end spot to true freshman Marlon Davidson on Auburn’s official depth chart.
The 6-foot-4, 271-pound junior did not participate in Auburn’s 18-13 win over LSU last Saturday night. In the first three games of the season, James recorded 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup and 1 quarterback hurry.
James enrolled at Auburn in January after transferring from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. The Miami, Fla., native was rated as the No. 17 overall JUCO player in the class of 2016 and the No. 2 weak-side defensive end, according to 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.
Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele spoke highly of James’ progress in August, according to SEC Country’s Lauren Shute.
“He has got a skill set that can make him really good,” Steele said. “When he gets it figured out, he has progressively gotten better each day. He studies it. He works at it. He’s not a high-rep guy; he’s a smart football player, so that’s helped him. That’s helped his transition. He’s got better every scrimmage and he’s fun to coach.”
With James out against LSU, Auburn primarily relied on Jeff Holland and Cowart to line up opposite starting Buck defensive end Carl Lawson.