Over the next few weeks, SEC Country will take Auburn football fans to Summer School. Each session will focus on one position on Auburn’s 2018 roster, finding answers from spring practice and looking ahead to what might be the biggest questions for the fall.
This week, we’re on the offensive line. Here’s the breakdown at center.
- Kaleb Kim (junior)
- Nick Brahms (redshirt freshman)
- Tucker Brown (senior)
- Jalil Irvin (freshman — summer arrival)
Answers from spring practice
Will Auburn’s center battle roll into fall camp?
It was always unlikely Auburn would name a new starter on the offensive line during spring practice. But injuries — one right after the other — to Kaleb Kim and Nick Brahms ensured the Tigers would continue this all-important competition into fall camp.
Kim and Brahms missed the A-Day spring game, forcing converted walk-on Tucker Brown to take key first-team reps in the annual scrimmage. Brown, while versatile, is a long shot for the starting job. Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes will wait to see if one of the two scholarship players can flip the proverbial switch this fall.
Would Auburn move another offensive lineman to compete at center?
This was a popular suggestion heading into spring practice. Right guard Mike Horton has experience snapping in practice, and a move inside would make some sense with all the available players at guard and tackle.
Yet Auburn held firm throughout spring practice. Grimes said last month Horton would continue to practice snapping “in case a real bomb goes off.” But the Tigers aren’t looking to move him from his right guard position and want him to develop there. That means the spotlight will be squarely on Kim and Brahms this fall.
Number to know
74: Between Casey Dunn and Austin Golson, Auburn relied on two players at center who had a combined 74 starts across the offensive line in their collegiate careers. This season, someone with zero college starts will get the nod.
Questions for fall
How much will the spring injuries impact the progress at center?
Auburn had a rash of bad luck with the injuries in spring practice. While they were later in camp, they still took away what could have been valuable snaps for two competing centers without a single start to their names. Grimes is still waiting for someone to break out.
“I think these guys have a chance,” Grimes said. “I just didn’t get enough information on two of them. … We’ll just have to find out in fall camp as quickly as possible which one’s going to take the bull by the horns.”
Can Nick Brahms make a push in camp?
Brahms might have been the pre-spring favorite to start at center. The redshirt freshman was a scout team star in 2017. However, Kim — a veteran reserve whose career path resembles former Auburn right tackle Robert Leff — took the majority of first-team snaps at center when healthy.
Brahms has proven he has the skill set to be the next star center for Auburn. But experience might win the day for the Tigers, who know more about what Kim brings to the table. How Brahms bounces back from his latest leg injury will go a long way in shaping the offensive line for 2018.