Editor’s Note: It’s a crucial year in Auburn. Gus Malzahn enters his fourth season in a bit of a rut, but he has proven he can quickly change the trajectory of the program when his team’s back is against the wall.
Auburn needs to find a quarterback, develop receivers and lean on a defense many expect to be much improved under coordinator Kevin Steele. Will all of the pieces come together in time for a successful season?
SEC Country takes a look at the 25 Most Important Tigers (and others) who will determine whether Auburn’s season is a success or failure.
16. Carlton Davis, cornerback
Auburn needed a lock-down cornerback and got it at times last season thanks to a freshman. Carlton Davis earned the starting job in 2015 and will be the starter once again if he can overcome legal troubles off the field.
Davis and three other players were arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana in the second degree April 30. A trial date looms July 21. The arrest doesn’t appear to be a huge detriment for his future and whether he will miss significant playing time, but it is a distraction.
Davis exited the spring as a projected starter despite dealing with an injured finger that kept him out of the spring game. The injury is not serious and he’ll be ready to participate in practices when pre-season camp begins in August.
“Carlton had a really good spring,” defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said three days before Davis’ arrest. “His skill set is at a high level and he improved daily.”
Davis was an All-SEC freshman at cornerback, leading the team with three interceptions, and will be counted on for more production and leadership in the fall. How he handles the fallout from the arrest will determine his future as much as anything he does on the field.
Coming Monday: Thank you, Big Ten
- No. 25 — Josh Holsey, cornerback/safety
- No. 24 — Leonard Fournette, LSU running back
- No. 23 — Rudy Ford, safety
- No. 22 — Chandler Cox, H-Back
- No. 21 — Paul James III, defensive end
- No. 20 — Kamryn Pettway, H-Back
- No. 19 — Kirby Smart, Georgia coach
- No. 18 — Austin Golson, offensive tackle
- No. 17 — Marlon Davidson, defensive end