4 freshmen who could break out for Auburn football in 2018
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@JFergusonAU Can you name some redshirt or incoming freshmen who should be on our radar for next year? Love the way Nick Coe exploded onto the scene this year.
— AU Fan (@aufaninthe334) December 11, 2017
AUBURN, Ala. — While Auburn could return the vast majority of its playmakers on both sides of the ball next season, there is room on a potential depth chart for some freshmen to play important roles.
Plenty of things could change for Auburn in terms of its roster for next season. Key underclassmen such as running back Kerryon Johnson, quarterback Jarrett Stidham, cornerback Carlton Davis and defensive end Jeff Holland could go to the NFL early.
But as it stands right now, here are four freshmen Auburn fans need to keep an eye on this offseason as the Tigers look to defend their SEC West title in 2018.
T Calvin Ashley
Auburn’s lone 5-star signee from the 2017 class didn’t play a single snap in the regular season. But coaches and teammates were impressed with Calvin Ashley during fall camp, and he was the second-team right tackle on the official depth chart. With all the veterans Auburn had on its offensive line this fall, redshirting Ashley was wise.
Now that the Tigers will lose four senior starters from their offensive line — including both of their tackles — Ashley is in prime position to start in 2018. He cut some weight from his 350-pound frame that Gus Malzahn remarked was still “athletic for how big he is.”
With a full season to develop his body into college-ready shape and what should have been some key second-team reps in practices this fall, Ashley is definitely one to watch in 2018. (Remember, Nick Coe was a second-teamer in practice while redshirting 2016, and that experience paid off in a huge way.) Auburn didn’t start a freshman on offense or defense in 2017, but that most likely will change with Ashley next season.
DB Quindarious Monday
If you’re looking for an incoming freshman to play a role for Auburn in 2018, Quindarious “Smoke” Monday is your best bet. Monday is set to enroll this month, and he’ll immediately get to work in an Auburn secondary that will lose both Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts at the safety spots after the Peach Bowl.
Monday is a 4-star athlete who Auburn coaches love. An Auburn coach told SEC Country’s Benjamin Wolk that Monday “might be the biggest commitment possible, at this time, because of the desperation at safety.” He has the build and the mentality to play right away, and being on campus a few months early will be important.
Auburn will return Jordyn Peters and Daniel Thomas at safety for 2018, but that’s basically it. Monday checks all the boxes in terms of an instant-impact freshman — skills, size, position need and arrival time.
RB Asa Martin
A lot of this hinges on if Kerryon Johnson returns for the 2018 season. But it’s hard not to imagine Asa Martin finding his way onto the field for Auburn next fall after an incredible senior season at Austin High School in Decatur, Ala.
Martin, who is rated as a consensus top-10 running back nationally, recently won the Gatorade Player of the Year award for the state of Alabama after rushing for 2,228 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns. He has good size and versatility out of the backfield, which would put him in a good spot for carries in the rotation, especially if Johnson left for the NFL.
And, like Monday, Martin is set to enroll early. That gives one of Auburn’s best commitments in the Class of 2018 a head start on earning playing time. The Tigers have numbers at running back, but Martin might be too good to keep on the sidelines next season.
K Anders Carlson
Much like Ashley, this is an easy call for freshman to watch. Anders Carlson is set to inherit his older brother Daniel’s position as Auburn’s starting kicker after redshirting in 2017.
Like Daniel, Anders Carlson is a big kicker — he’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds — and has plenty of experience drilling long field goals. In high school, his career long was 51.
He was the nation’s top kicking prospect out of high school and has gotten the best redshirt experience possible by learning behind his record-setting older brother. Having another Carlson will be a bonus for an Auburn special teams unit that didn’t have its best season in 2017.
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