AUBURN, Ala. — In the first two weeks of Auburn football’s fall camp, Devan Barrett has proven he is far from an overwhelmed freshman.
Barrett, a former 4-star recruit from Tampa, Fla., has a legitimate chance to play an important role for the Tigers in his first season. Auburn wants to lock down a No. 3 running back behind Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, and Barrett’s work in two scrimmages show he’s definitely in the mix.
“He got a very good look,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Saturday after the Tigers’ second scrimmage. “He got quite a few carries to show what he could do, and he made a couple of good runs. Of course, my big deal is ball security, and I think he protected the ball pretty well.”
Barrett has received double-digit carries in both scrimmages for the Tigers, who are also considering sophomore Kam Martin and redshirt freshman Malik Miller for the No. 3 role.
The freshman running back scored a touchdown on the ground in the first scrimmage — one of the only scores of the defense-dominated day.
“He could [become the No. 3 running back], there’s no doubt,” Malzahn said after the first scrimmage. “He got a lot of reps today. I think he got close to 10 carries, and they threw him the ball a couple of times, too. He’s got a skill set.”
Auburn running backs coach and special teams coordinator Tim Horton recently raved about Barrett’s early work in the backfield and as a kick returner.
“Devan Barrett’s stock is going up,” Horton said. “He’s really doing a good job. … It’s still just a little early, but boy, we’re pleased with him. He’s got a good skill set. He’s in that mix.”
Barrett, who Horton said added “between 10 and 15 pounds” this offseason, has the speed to make a difference this fall. Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey specifically noted how he liked Barrett’s “explosive first step” in the first week of camp, and Johnson saw the same in his fellow running back from the beginning.
“Devan’s really fast, and he has really good feet,” Johnson said last week. “He’s caught onto the offense really fast, and I think that’ll help him. Coming in to fall camp is never easy for a freshman, but he’s taking it in stride and he’s getting settled in. I think he’s doing very well.”
Barrett also has impressed with his willingness to seek out contact, whether he has the ball in his hands or not. Both Johnson and Horton praised the freshman’s strong work in pass blocking during the Tigers’ first day of pads.
“You know, I guess it was [legendary Texas coach] Darrell Royal many, many years ago who used to say you want to find out if that dog will bite early,” Horton said. “That’s what we got with [Barrett and fellow freshman JaTarvious Whitlow]. We’ve got a pass-protection drill we do where it’s linebackers versus running backs … and they’ll bite, so we like that.”
Barrett faces tough competition for that No. 3 role between Martin and Miller, who each took on that responsibility at times last fall.
However, Auburn’s coaches aren’t afraid to play freshmen on offense, and they like what they see out of the strong and speedy Barrett.
“He can stick his foot in the ground and accelerate,” Horton said. “The thing you really don’t know sometimes is how tough is he going to be? That’s something in the scrimmages and practices that we’ve been real pleased with, that he likes the physical aspect of the game.”