Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country
Senior safety Tray Matthews will likely be Auburn's most entertaining player representative at SEC Media Days.

Auburn football: What to expect from the big three at SEC Media Days, Austin Wiley and Team USA move on to FIBA quarterfinals

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily War Eagle Wakeup, a rundown of everything happening in Auburn football and Auburn Tigers athletics with Lauren Shute. Today, we discuss the players who will represent the Tigers at SEC Media days and more World Cup action in Egypt. 

What to expect from the big three 

Hoping to get a feel for the Auburn football program before fall camp starts up at the end of July? Well, SEC Media Days is next week, so the wait is almost over.

For Auburn info, fans will be dependent on seniors Tray Matthews, Daniel Carlson and Braden Smith. That’s the big three — along with coach Gus Malzahn — the Tigers are sending to Hoover, Ala. But what can you really expect from each of them?

For starters, expect the most entertainment from Matthews. The safety is one of the most vocal players, and probably most respected leaders, on not just the defense but the entire team. He is the player who, when asked about the obvious differences between former secondary coach Wesley McGriff and his replacement Greg Brown earlier this spring pointed out their skin color (which caused the room of media to erupt into giggles). In all seriousness, though Matthews is a fun rep.

And of course, get ready to hear about how Carlson is the best kicker in the country because … well, he probably is. The two-time Lou Groza Award finalist will be front and center. But those rolling their eyes at a kicker’s presence at Media Days should take pause — Carlson is not the norm. At times in 2016 he was Auburn’s only real source of offense. He’s almost established a celebrity-esque, quarterback-like aura about him because of his importance.

Then there’s Smith. The offensive lineman is no doubt one of the most important pieces to Auburn’s offense. He’ll probably be the one to get the bulk of the Jarrett Stidham questions, too. Smith doesn’t say much, but to his credit, he’s admitted to local Auburn media that he’s tried his best to improve when thrust in the middle of a group of cameras and recorders — and he has. Media Days is a great opportunity for Smith to show his senior leadership early.

My colleague Justin Ferguson took a look at what each pick means for the offense, defense and special teams in a piece earlier this week.

Missing thunder, lacking lightning 

Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson have the potential to be one of the most dynamic backfields in the country this season. The duo will also, not surprisingly, be missing from Media Days.

Auburn will likely say it’s because it wants seniors to represent the team, which is a valid point. But there might be another reason.

Since 2013, the Tigers have led the SEC in rushing offense twice, finished runner-up once and fifth the other time. In each of those seasons, no tailbacks were at Media Days. So maybe Auburn’s secret is to keep the rushers home during Media Days. While it’s unfortunate fans and media won’t get to hear from Johnson — one of the best public speakers and Twitter presences on the team — or Pettway, who could very well be an early Heisman contender, it might be for the best.

Austin Wiley’s quiet Wednesday 

Auburn basketball center Austin Wiley only scored 2 points and grabbed 3 rebounds, but the Americans still ran Mali out of the gym Wednesday at the U19 FIBA World Cup in Cairo.

Wiley played less than 10 minutes and again dealt with foul trouble. It didn’t really matter, though. The USA put up 117 points to Mali’s 69 and remain undefeated.

The fun continues in Egypt on Friday when the U.S. takes on Germany at 2:15 p.m. CT / 3:15 p.m. ET.

ICYMI

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