HOOVER, Ala. — The frustrating first Auburn football seasons for running back Malik Miller and defensive end Paul James III will have a positive spin in the end.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Thursday morning before his main room appearance at SEC Media Days that Miller and James have been granted medical redshirt years.
Miller will be a redshirt freshman in 2017, while James will still have two years of eligibility after arriving from junior college last year.
Miller suffered a season-ending meniscus injury in the third quarter of Auburn’s blowout win over Louisiana-Monroe last fall. He carried the ball nine times for 45 yards in his two games of work.
Miller entered the 2016 season as Auburn’s No. 3 running back behind Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. He could return to that role in 2017.
“Hopefully he can bring another set of wheels to our backfield, because it’s the SEC and injuries happen like they did last year, so we have more people that we can count on,” Johnson said this spring. “He rehabbed very well. Now he’s back to full strength. I think he’s enjoying playing football again.”
James played in three games last season as a pass-rushing defensive end. He went down with a season-ending knee injury in the practices before Auburn’s Week 4 victory over LSU.
James, who is a candidate to start for the Tigers as Buck defensive end this fall, won Auburn’s A-Day MVP award in April. He had four tackles, including three for loss, in the annual spring showcase.
“(A-Day) was a big step for me, because I’ve been mainly in the shadows a lot,” James said after A-Day. “For me to have the day that I had, it really shows my character. I’ve been through a lot.”