Taking stock of young defensive backs Auburn football needs to rely on in 2018
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Any info on how young DBs have been progressing? Curious if any stood out in bowl practice or scout team this year. Guys like Askew, Myers & Leonard
— AUNerd (@AUSportsNerd) January 15, 2018
AUBURN, Ala. — With five defensive backs — Carlton Davis, Stephen Roberts, Tray Matthews, Jason Smith and Nick Ruffin — now gone from the roster, Auburn football will have to count on several young players to step up in the 2018 season.
Auburn should return four experienced players for 2018 in the secondary in Jeremiah Dinson, Jamel Dean, Javaris Davis and Daniel Thomas. Who will fill in around and behind them, though, is up in the air. The upcoming offseason will be huge for development, and the Tigers will benefit from now having a pair of secondary coaches to work with this unit, thanks to the addition of Marcus Woodson.
Let’s break down Auburn’s young defensive backs for 2018 into three separate categories: Need them to contribute now, need them to provide depth and need a big offseason.
Need them to contribute now
Jordyn Peters’ play throughout his freshman season will make him a prime candidate to start in 2018. In the way-too-early depth chart projection from Monday, Peters was at nickel back, which pushed Dinson back to safety. Peters said after the Peach Bowl he believes he’ll play more corner or nickel than safety, and that move would put some more experience in the back end.
The Muscle Shoals, Ala., native made some impressive plays in coverage in 2017 and said he’ll work hard on his technique this offseason. Whether he cements himself at safety or in one of the speciality cornerback spots, Peters will be one to watch as a potential starter.
In terms of depth at cornerback, keep an eye on Traivon Leonard. He played as a freshman early last season, seeing the field in four of the first five SEC games. Matthews said during the season he thought Peters and Leonard would be “helpful next year when we’re all gone.”
Leonard getting into the rotation as a freshman ahead of several more experienced players is a good sign for his future. He was the “next man up” behind the Davises and Dean, according to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. Auburn likes his length and physical nature.
Need them to provide depth
Auburn’s only cornerback pickup — so far — in the 2018 class, Christian Tutt benefited from some bowl practices before the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as an early enrollee. Tutt told SEC Country that Greg Brown told him the Tigers wanted to bring him in early and work in Carlton Davis’ role. Tutt is set to wear Davis’ No. 6 next season and challenge for immediate playing time.
Auburn’s message to Tutt throughout the recruiting process was that it needed bodies at cornerback right away. Javaris Davis and Dean will be favorites to start, but Tutt will compete hard in the spring. It won’t be surprising at all to see him on the two-deep next fall.
Quindarious Monday and Jamien Sherwood
The Tigers are mighty thin at safety, and they’ll need help right away from their blue-chip safety signees. Both Monday and Sherwood look like college-ready players. An Auburn source told SEC Country that Monday specifically could’ve helped out in 2017 at safety. Coaches love his game.
“Smoke” Monday will have an edge early thanks to his early enrollee status. He’s already plugged into the Auburn system thanks to his time with Tutt in Peach Bowl practices. Sherwood will be one to watch whenever he gets on campus. Auburn has more depth at cornerback than safety, so to speak, so expect Monday and Sherwood to contribute early and often.
Need a big offseason
Malcolm Askew, John Broussard Jr. and Jayvaughn Myers
Auburn’s hard push for defensive backs in this recruiting class doesn’t spell the best fortunes for this trio of defensive backs. Coaches and teammates didn’t say much about these three during the season, but they’re all in different situations.
Askew enrolled early but redshirted, and he could provide extra depth at cornerback or nickel during the 2018 season. Broussard played in nine games and had some up-and-down showings late in contests. Myers, who was coming off a major knee injury that held him out for a while, only appeared in one game. With Auburn’s new blood coming in at defensive back, this will be a big spring for these older players to make moves up the depth chart.