Auburn Football: Outback Bowl Practices Will Offer Sneak Peek of 2015 Stars

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Nov 9, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Auburn Tigers offensive linesman Alex Kozan (63) gets set to block for Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall (14) as he rushes away from Tennessee Volunteers defensive back JaRon Toney (35) during the second half at Neyland Stadium. Auburn won 55-23. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson will operate behind two new starters on the offensive line with Dismukes and fellow senior starter Chad Slade graduating.

At this point, Braden Smith is the most likely to emerge as a starter to replace Slade, though Patrick Miller and Devonte Danzey have played a lot this season. Smith is one of the strongest players on the team and has the ability to be a future star on the offensive line.

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  • That said, Miller and Danzey have an edge in experience having stepped in with 2013 starter and Freshman All-American Alex Kozan out for the season. If Kozan is able to make a full recovery from his back injury, he will likely regain his starting spot. If not, there will be a three man battle for two open guard slots.

    Xavier Dampeer has been the backup center and should provide a smooth transition at the position.

    Malzahn will also be looking for new tight ends/H-backs after seniors  C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Fulse leave following the Outback Bowl. It’s an underrated role and a Uzomah and Fulse are couple of often overlooked players that will be very difficult to replace.

    And right now, options are limited. Jackell Mitchell is a name to watch, but he’s far from the physical presence Uzomah and Fulse have been. Smith did play tight end in short-yardage situations this season, so he could be a potential option if he does not win a starting job on the offensive line. He’s versatile, but at 300 pounds, Smith isn’t likely to be an every-down tight end.

    Next: Defensive Line and Linebacker