A rebounding Auburn program introduced nine early enrollees in mid-January, and many figure to contribute immediately with spring practice underway.
The Tigers are looking to retool following the departures of several key starters, most notably running back Peyton Barber, offensive tackle Shon Coleman and linebacker Cassanova McKinzy, among others.
How the program’s early signees will help fill those voids, however, remains to be seen. But the group has shown early promise.
“I’ve been very impressed personally with the way they’ve responded to our mat drills, and the way they’ve responded to (strength) coach (Ryan) Russell,” Gus Malzahn said during his press conference on Tuesday.
“He’s been impressed, too, because a lot of times they are getting into something new. Their heads are spinning with everything that goes on. But there is a lot of maturity with that group, and that’s a good thing. So we’re excited about spring practice seeing how they get out there and compete. There’s quite a few of those guys that could help us next year, so we’ll know more after spring. But we feel very good about the group, and we’re getting reports about how they’re doing off the field, too — academically, socially, everything that goes with it.”
Junior college transfer John Franklin III, four-star receiver Kyle Davis and former five-star defensive end Marlon Davidson highlight Auburn’s list of early reinforcements.
Franklin III could be an intriguing candidate for the starting quarterback position next season. Rated the No. 1 athlete among junior college transfers, Franklin amassed 723 passing yards and seven touchdowns at East Mississippi Community College in 2015. Franklin worked alongside sophomore passer Tyler Queen on Tuesday, per AL.com’s Brandon Marcello.
Meanwhile, Davis, an Under Armour All-American, was spotted taking reps at kick returner with sophomore wide receiver Stanton Truitt. Davis will be ‘limited some’, per Malzahn, following a minor surgery on his shoulder earlier in the year, but the fourth-year coach recognizes his potential.
“He’s got the ability,” Malzahn said. “He’s got that ability that could definitely help us next year. But it kind of comes back to what I said — just the earn it attitude — he understands that.”
Auburn will resume spring drills on Thursday.
All rankings are according to the 247Sports Composite