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.
5. Jovon Robinson, running back
Is there any question as to who is the top running back on the roster? If there is, let’s end that discussion right now. Jovon Robinson is the best tailback on the team and he will lead the Tigers — barring an unforeseen injury — on the ground in the fall.
He was obviously the best tailback on the roster last season but an attitude issue in practices in August, along with an ankle injury in the season opener, put him behind the curve. It wasn’t until the end of the season we saw what he was capable of achieving off the bench. The former No. 1 junior college player ran for 90 yards or more in five of the last six games, including a 126-yard, one-touchdown performance in the Birmingham Bowl.
Robinson had a slight edge over Roc Thomas, who was seeing more time at slot receiver, for the starting job entering the summer. Thomas left the team and transferred to Jacksonville State, so Robinson will be the workhorse tailback the Tigers need to contribute throughout the season. Still, Robinson needs to show he is humble and pays attention in the meeting room and on the practice field.
“One thing you always want to do as a coach is we need to make sure they have the right maturity through the summer and the right work ethic through the summer,” running backs coach Tim Horton said in May. “So sometimes I think when coaches wait to name starters, they want to make sure that, hey, this kid can handle what role we’re fixing to give to him. I don’t think those roles will be defined until a couple of weeks before the Clemson game.”
If Robinson does all of that, he’ll extend Auburn’s SEC record to eight straight seasons with at least one 1,000-yard rusher.
Coming Tuesday: The hyphen
- 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
- No. 9 — Kyle Davis, receiver
- No. 8 — Kevin Steele, defensive coordinator
- No. 7 — Montravius Adams, defensive tackle
- No. 6 — Xavier Dampeer, center