Auburn football: Ranking top 10 Tigers through first four games of 2018

JaTarvious Whitlow has been one of Auburn's top performers this season. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
JaTarvious Whitlow has been one of Auburn's top performers this season. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /
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Deshaun Davis leads the Tigers in tackles this season. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

2. Deshaun Davis

For the past two seasons, Deshaun Davis has been the heart and soul of the Auburn defense as the middle linebacker and leading tackler.

He’s become more of a playmaker this season.

He leads Auburn with 33 tackles and with 5.0 tackles for loss. Almost any play an Auburn opponent runs, No. 57 is somewhere near the action.

He is the leader of the defense and the rest of the team feeds off him.

What does Auburn need from him the rest of the season? More of what he’s doing. Setting up his teammates, getting in the backfield, pumping up the crowd, making third-down stops. You name it, Auburn needs it from him.

And he’s the perfect player to have to count on for that type of production.

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Ryan Davis had a big first half for the Tigers. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /

1. Ryan Davis

Was there really any question as to who would be No. 1 on the list?

At first, we weren’t sure, but when you really look at the impact, it’s Ryan Davis. Especially after the win against Arkansas.

He’s first on the team with 19 receptions and second with 149 yards. He leads the team in punt returns, averaging 16.6 yards on nine returns. He’s been vital to Auburn’s success this season:

  • Against Washington, after Auburn forced the Huskies to punt on their first possession, he returned the kick 32 yards to the UW 36 and it led to an Auburn touchdown.
  • Against Arkansas, he caught six passes for 40 yards and averaged 42.0 yards on two punt returns.

Against the Razorbacks, his 48-yard return to the Hogs’ 27 in the opening quarter led to a field goal. He later returned 36 yards to the Arkansas 15 and nearly made it to the end zone.

He’s become a problem for opponents on special teams. With the pressure Auburn is putting on the punter (two blocks this season), it leaves little choice than to kick it quick, which lends itself to a return or kick it away, which often leads to shorter kicks that go out of bounds.

And as a receiver, Davis is a step from a big play every time he touches it. Look for Stidham to continue feeding Davis from here out. Bigger plays are waiting to happen.