Though not a complete picture, Auburn football’s A-Day spring game provided for fans a glimpse of the 2022 linebackers corps.
With both Chandler Wooten and Zakoby McClain having graduated and beginning to prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft as well as the Tigers bringing on a new LB coach in Christian Robinson, the position group is definitely undergoing changes ahead of Bryan Harsin’s second season on the Plains.
While young returners Wesley Steiner and Cam Riley stepped up in the annual spring scrimmage, and former JUCO linebacker Joko Willis demonstrated his pass-rushing abilities, the Tigers are still operating without veteran LB and team leader Owen Pappoe, who is currently still sidelined while recovering from an injury sustained last season.
Although Pappoe has yet to fully participate in offseason training, Wesley Steiner claims that the veteran has been instrumental in the development of the mostly inexperienced position group, via AL.com:
"“Owen’s been a tremendous help so far, even if he’s not present on the field, he’s certainly present at practice when we come off the sidelines,” Steiner said. “Because he’s still watching, he’s still coaching up as best as he can.”"
In addition to Pappoe, the only other linebacker that did not participate in the A-Day game was UNC transfer Eugene Asante, who has been taking reps with the second team during spring training in addition to learning Auburn football’s play book.
Though Pappoe is fully expected to return to the lineup this fall, the other, less experienced members of the linebackers room are taking advantage of the chance to get in extra reps and learn from Pappoe, himself.
The loss of Wooten and McClain is, of course, a hit to Auburn football, but with guys like Steiner, Willis, and Riley stepping up to the plate and taking tips from Pappoe, it’s likely that the linebacker position will not lose any momentum heading into the 2022 season.