AUBURN, Ala. — Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele didn’t hesitate when he was asked who stood out the most in Auburn football’s scrimmage Sunday night.
The Tigers, as is their custom during bowl practices on campus, split up their young players and matched them against each other to close the Sunday session.
For Steele, the standout performance went to a freshman who became a fixture in Auburn’s secondary late in the regular season.
“I think probably the biggest thing was Jordyn Peters,” Steele said. “We kind of moved him around a little bit. We played him a little bit at corner, little bit at star, little bit at safety.”
Peters has been a rising name for Auburn’s defense in the final months of 2017. The former 3-star signee from Muscle Shoals, Ala., played in all 13 games this regular season. He had 16 tackles, including a sack against Missouri, and a pair of pass breakups.
One of those breakups came against Alabama star wide receiver Calvin Ridley early in the Tigers’ 26-14 win in the Iron Bowl.
“I think we ended the year that way, though, because Jordyn played quite a bit,” Steele said. “I think the very first third down in the Iron Bowl — on a very, very good wide receiver — he made a play on him. That was pretty critical in the game.”
Peters provided depth at safety and played several games late in the season as Auburn’s dime back — that is, the sixth defensive back whenever the Tigers went with a 4-1-6 look, mostly on third downs.
Auburn will continue to move Peters around in the secondary, which could lose a starting cornerback in junior Carlton Davis, along with the senior safety combo of Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts.
Peters garnered high praise from one of those outgoing defensive backs this fall.
“Jordyn Peters is one of those young guys that gets it,” Matthews said in October. “He loves football. He’s not very immature at all. His IQ level is up to par, and he’s very coachable. That’s why he’s on the field as a youngster.”
Peters is a favorite to earn a starting job in Auburn’s secondary in the 2018 season. That would most likely come at safety, alongside rising junior Daniel Thomas — another player who stood out late in his freshman season.
“He’s been getting better every week as a defensive back,” Thomas said earlier this season. “He’s been getting better. That’s what you like to see in a young guy. It’s a good thing, because it lets our coach know that we’ve got depth.”
Matthews sees a lot of himself in Peters, a physical defensive back who showed he could close down ball carriers quickly this fall.
“He has great ball skills,” Matthews said. “He’s very instinctive, and he’s not scared to put his face in the fan. He’s not scared to tackle at all. He’ll be a great player next year and for years to come.”
So when Peters had a top-notch performance Sunday evening in the indoor practice facility, it didn’t come as a surprise.
Steele said the Tigers already look to Peters as a trustworthy piece of the secondary, even though he’s just a few months into his college career.
“We rely on him,” Steele said. “I think he’s earned that to this point… not just for next year.”