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.
10. Marcus Davis, receiver
They call Marcus Davis the quarterback of the receiving corps, but can he step up and produce like one of the top players on the team?
The senior gets one last shot in 2016 after catching 30 passes for 181 yards in 2015. He led the way in the A-Day spring game and talked like a leader following the scrimmage.
“In the summer it’s going to big for us just jelling and everything,” he said. “The more time we spend together the better we’ll be, with any offense, just building the chemistry and being out there with each other.”
He didn’t sound convinced — or maybe he was being humble — he would be the No. 1 receiver in the offense as a senior. “I’m going there in the system and whatever happens, happen. I know if I’m the No. 1 guy, I’ll be sure to make plays.”
Davis needs to play like he’s the top dog because he is the guy Auburn’s quarterbacks can rely on this summer and in the fall for leadership and bringing the young receivers along in the offense. He’s only 5-foot-9, but Davis has a great catch radius and is a heck of a returner on special teams.
“Marcus is a big guy that we’re going to move around,” receivers coach Kodi Burns said. “I believe he can play multiple positions for us. He’s a guy that is the quarterback of the receiver group. He knows the offense, he understands it, he knows what it takes and he actually played as a freshman, so for some of these young freshmen coming in, he can help them out and teach them the ropes.”
Time will tell if Davis produces a huge statistical season, but what he does off the field (bringing along Nate Craig-Myers, Kyle Davis, Marquis McClain and Eli Stove) could be just as important as anything he does on the field.
Coming Tuesday: Name game
- 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
- No. 12 — Eli Stove, receiver
- No. 11 — Jason Smith, receiver