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 right tackle.
- Calvin Ashley (redshirt freshman) or Austin Troxell (redshirt freshman)
- Jack Driscoll (junior)
Answers from spring practice
Is Calvin Ashley the favorite to start at right tackle in 2018?
Last season, Ashley occupied the second-team position on Auburn’s depth chart despite not playing a snap. The former 5-star got that much love from the staff during his redshirt season, so it only seemed natural for Ashley to step up to the starting job with Darius James’ departure to the NFL.
However, Ashley exited spring in what offensive line coach J.B. Grimes called a “dead heat” with Austin Troxell. Another redshirt freshman, Troxell looked to be the more consistent of the two tackles in camp, and he finished with first-team reps in the final scrimmages. There’s no guarantee Ashley — Auburn’s highest-rated recruit in several years — starts in 2018.
War Eagle! pic.twitter.com/SeswmfMKCB
— Jack Driscoll (@jackd3363) April 25, 2018
Could Auburn add another piece to the competition?
Auburn didn’t stand pat at tackle this offseason. The Tigers added UMass graduate transfer Jack Driscoll a few weeks after the end of spring practice. Driscoll had experience at multiple positions for the Minutemen, but he was rated as one of the best linemen among the independent schools last season for his work at right tackle.
According to a source, Auburn plans to keep Driscoll at right tackle when fall camp begins. Driscoll’s presence will be a boost to Auburn’s offensive line, which isn’t the strongest in terms of numbers. However, he will not automatically be penciled in as a starter — Florida State transfer Wilson Bell never cracked the starting lineup last season for the Tigers offensive line.
Number to know
5: Driscoll has played in five games against SEC opponents in his career. During his time with the Minutemen, Driscoll faced Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina in 2016 and Tennessee and Mississippi State in 2017. For a position thin on experience, those games should help Driscoll’s chances.
Questions for fall
Who takes the starting job?
Of all the position battles at Auburn this offseason, right tackle feels like the most competitive. Kam Martin has the early edge at running back, and Kaleb Kim is the favorite to win the center job. Right tackle, though, could be anyone’s game, especially with the arrival of Driscoll.
The UMass transfer appears to be the safest bet on the board — Auburn made an effort to get his services for a reason. Skill-wise, Ashley has all the tools to be a strong starter in the SEC. But Troxell was the most consistent in spring practices and appeared to enter the summer with an advantage.
Does Jack Driscoll’s arrival cause any other shifts up front?
If Driscoll wins the starting job, Auburn could move pieces around on what has been a set offensive line since Grimes’ return. Could Ashley or Troxell find a better shot at playing time in 2019 and beyond behind Prince Tega Wanogho on the left side or one of the junior guards?
Driscoll gives Auburn a boost of experience and upside, as he has two years of eligibility. He also could allow more development time for either of the redshirt freshmen who battled it out at right tackle in the spring.