Following in the lead of several other college football players around the country, Auburn has its first opt-out of the 2020 season.
It seemed like a matter of time before someone on AUburn’s roster inevitably opted out of the 2020 season. On Thursday, that became a reality for the Tigers after senior linebacker Chandler Wooten announced he would be opting out of the upcoming season.
The season itself is far from a guarantee as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has filled the future of the sport with uncertainly. Just last week, the SEC followed in the footsteps of several other Power Five conferences in announcing a conference-only schedule for 2020.
As for Wooten, the veteran linebacker announced his decision on Thursday via his Twitter. In his announcement, Wooten states that recent events regarding social injustice and COVID-19 led to his decision.
Additionally, Wooten is set to become a father later this year in November and he rightfully is taking the health of his unborn son into consideration. Wooten also stated that he had conversations with head coach Gus Malzahn, linebackers coach Travis Williams and Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene and that he is ultimately, confident in his decision.
Fortunately, Wooten, who was entering his senior season for the Tigers, also stated that he would take a redshirt year in 2020 and return to the team to play his final year of eligibility in 2021.
Wooten came to The Plains as a three-star OLB prospect out of Kennesaw, Georgia. In his first three seasons, Wooten has mainly served as a backup but has been an important piece in Auburn’s LB rotation and saw both his role and production increase this past season.
In 2019, the 6-foot-2, 229-pound linebacker appeared in 11 games for the Tigers where he recorded 27 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and one interception.
While the loss of Wooten certainly hurts the Auburn defense in terms of talent, depth and veteran leadership, the Tigers are going into the 2020 season with possibly the best linebacker core in recent memory.
Led by first-team All-SEC selection K.J. Britt along with junior Zakoby McClain and sophomore Owen Pappoe, Auburn still fixes to have some of the best linebackers in the conference, even without Wooten.
And in terms of depth, the Tigers have recruited the LB position extremely well as of late and have four highly-touted linebackers from the 2020 recruiting class alone.
With Wooten becoming the first Auburn player to opt-out of the upcoming season, only time will tell if more Tigers do the same in the coming days.