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.
9. Kyle Davis, receiver
All four newcomers at receiver could contribute immediately in the rotation on offense, but only one had a headstart on the others.
Davis arrived at Auburn in January. An unfortunate (and unspecified) shoulder injury kept him on the sidelines during spring drills, but the mental reps he received were invaluable. The 4-star prospect was rated the nation’s ninth-best prep receiver and drew praise in the offseason from coaches.
“The good thing with Kyle was that he was able to get a spring underneath his belt, even though he didn’t practice, which is fine. He can see how we do things, he can see how I coach, he can see how I teach,” receivers coach Kodi Burns said.
“That was really good for him to sit back and say, ‘Hey, coach, what do I do on this route? What do you think on this play?’ He was in the meetings, he was at practice, we worked with him after practice, before practice. He got mental reps as well as physical reps. Just having him around was really big this spring.”
Physically, Davis looks the part of a receiver ready to hit the field. Whether he can be a consistent threat and can properly read defenders to adjust routes in Auburn’s hurry-up offense as a freshman is a question he will not be able to answer until the season starts. The good news? He has a head start on his competition.
Coming Wednesday: New year, new play caller
- 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
- No. 10 — Marcus Davis, receiver