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.
4. Nate Craig-Myers, receiver
Auburn has only had one 1,000-yard freshman receiver in the modern era.
Nate Craig-Myers believes he can make it two in 2016.
Expectations are high for the nation’s No. 6 receiver as he prepares for practices in August. When asked by SEC Country during a visit to Florida in the spring who would be the top two receivers this fall, the confident freshman didn’t hesitate.
“Myself,” said Myers, “and whoever wants to tag along.”
The question is whether he can do it.
“Physically, he’s certainly capable of it,” Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory said. “Mentally, it’s a matter of how well he picks up a college playbook.”
Auburn needs a receiver to step up as the go-to player in the offense. The Tigers struggled last season without a top option, and with Ricardo Louis (the closest thing to a sure thing) gone Auburn will count on at least two newcomers to contribute immediately at receiver. One of those players likely will have to be the one taking the top off the defense with speed, elusiveness and toughness.
“I had the opportunity to sit in some meetings with the Auburn guys and what they do is fairly complicated, but to some degree you do what you have to do with the personnel,” Gregory said.
“I think they’ll find a way to get him on the field. Looking at the receiver group they have now, I think he can certainly go in and contribute right away. Nothing against those guys, but just knowing what he can do physically, really the sky is the limit for him. He can do whatever he wants as long as he puts the work in. I have no doubt or question about his work ethic. He’ll find a way.”
Contributing is not only a goal for Craig-Myers, it’s a necessity for Auburn’s offense to be successful.
Coming Wednesday: Auburn’s best defensive player
- 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
- No. 5 — Jovon Robinson, running back