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.
12. Eli Stove, receiver
There is no way to be sure which of the freshman receivers will step up and have a big season, but we really like Eli Stove at this spot.
The 6-foot-1, 178-pound prospect should play immediately because of his versatility at multiple positions. Here’s the other kicker: he can run and is a perfect option for Auburn’s signature jet sweeps (he ran for 703 yards and eight touchdowns during his high school career). Stove should play immediately, but receivers coach Kodi Burns is not making any promises for the 4-star signee.
“Eli Stove is a guy we can move as well to multiple positions,” Burns said. “He’s a guy you have to get the ball in his hands. He’s going to be a guy who can develop into a really good receiver here. Just like all of these guys, they’re really talented, but we do have to understand they are freshmen. I don’t care what you did in high school. It’s a different level now. Even in practice, it’s going to be different.”
Stove, Kyle Davis and Nate Craig-Myers need to be ready, because Auburn is going to need at least two to help at receiver, an overlooked weak spot on the team last season.
Coming Friday: A former quarterback
- 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
- No. 16 — Carlton Davis, cornerback
- No. 15 — T.J. Neal, linebacker
- No. 14 — Tre’ Williams, linebacker
- No. 13 — Nick Saban, Alabama coach