HOOVER, Ala. — Kerryon Johnson’s role is not only important to Auburn, but it will also expand in 2016.
The sophomore had an instant impact last season, combining for 753 total yards rushing, catching and returning the ball on kickoffs. His touches should increase this fall.
“Kerryon Johnson has got a chance to be one of the most versatile guys in the league,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said at SEC Media Days. “His best days are to come.”
Johnson missed most of spring practices recovering from shoulder surgery, but will be cleared to participate in drills when preseason camp begins in August.
“You’re talking about a guy who threw the ball out of backfield. Some wildcat stuff,” Malzahn said. “He was banged up most of the year, had shoulder surgery in the spring. He has probably put on close to 15, 20 pounds, which that’s a good thing.”
Coaches were concerned because Johnson was unable to hit the weight room as much as they had hoped in the offseason, but he still managed to gain 11 pounds to bulk up to 211, according to Auburn’s official roster released Monday.
“I don’t know if missing the field time hurts as much as missing the weight room time because we would like him to become a more physical and more developed player that could take those 20-25 carries a game, if he had to,” running backs coach Tim Horton said in May.
Johnson averaged 27.6 yards per kick return and also caught 14 passes for 159 yards last season. The running back will play a variety of roles and will likely serve as the top backup to Jovon Robinson.
“Just from a play calling standpoint, from an offensive standpoint, he gives us a lot of flexibility because he does a lot of things well,” Malzahn said. “He’s going have a good role for us this year.”