Auburn football needs J.B. Grimes to ‘bring that nasty’ out of Calvin Ashley
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Is Calvin Ashley mentally and physically ready to be a top-level SEC tackle?
AUBURN, Ala. — Calvin Ashley’s physical gifts are apparent whenever he steps onto a field of any kind for Auburn football.
Ashley is 6-foot-6, the perfect height for a bookend-type tackle in the SEC. He has slimmed down from the 350 pounds he was listed at last season as a 5-star freshman, looking leaner yet still powerful in spring practice.
If the current first-team right tackle makes the jump as a redshirt freshman in 2018, the difference will have to come from what’s inside his helmet.
“I think with Calvin, he has all the physical ability,” junior guard Mike Horton said. “It’s just mental with him. I think that’s what he’s going to do this year and this spring. I think that’s what he’s gotten better at.”
Truthfully, Ashley might not be able to show if he’s ready mentally to be a starting tackle in the SEC until the games begin in six months. Horton thinks the return of veteran offensive line coach J.B. Grimes will get him to that level.
“I think Coach Grimes will be a great coach for him because he’s really going to push him to that next level he needs to take to be a great player,” Horton said. “I think Calvin’s going to be great. He’s showed me a lot recently.”
What exactly will Grimes push out of Ashley, you ask?
“I think Coach Grimes is just bringing that nasty out of him, because that’s what Calvin needs,” Horton said. “He needs that nastiness to come out of him, and I think he has it in him. But I think Coach Grimes is definitely going to push him.”
Ashley started to make that turn in December, according to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. Ashley starred on the scout team but still dealt with a couple injuries while redshirting.
The light seemed to come on for him during Peach Bowl practices on campus.
“He’s got a lot of ability, for sure,” Lindsey said in December. “I think he’s got a really bright future, he just has to continue to play and get reps.”
Ashley is getting plenty of those in 2018 under the guidance of Grimes. With five senior offensive linemen from 2017 now gone, the door was wide open for Ashley to take over a starting job.
Auburn didn’t need Ashley to play right away last season. This season will be a different story, as the Tigers will need to see the urgency from Ashley that he didn’t have as a redshirting player.
“Just coming in you don’t really know what to expect yet, so you’re just kind of feeling around,” Horton said. “But I think he’s ready to take that next step.”
Whatever was in Ashley’s way as a first-year player doesn’t seem to be there now as he progresses toward becoming a starter in the SEC.
“From me observing him, I could see that he’s a great player, but he wasn’t ready to take that next step yet,” Horton said. “He had some injuries and stuff going on, but I think now he can definitely take that next step. He’s past that stage. He’s not there anymore.”