Incumbent starter not favored to start at center for Auburn football in 2023

Auburn football(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Auburn football(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /

Auburn football is expected to see widespread changes along the offensive line, with as many as four positions having a new starter after the Tigers’ OL was a painful sore spot during the 2022 season.

Only left guard Jeremiah Wright is expected to retain his starting spot. Tate Johnson, who got the nod as the starting center following Nick Brahms’ sudden medical retirement before the last campaign began and had a season-ending injury after the first four games, is expected to be usurped by East Carolina transfer Avery Jones.

Tom Green called Jones the favorite in his latest for breaking down the position battles to keep an eye on during spring practices:

"“Even with Johnson back healthy this year, Auburn chose to address the center position in the transfer portal, bringing in the top available center on the market in Jones, who spent the last three seasons at Eastern Carolina.”“A former four-star prospect who signed with North Carolina out of high school, Jones became a fixture along the line for ECU, starting 32 games over the last three seasons, including all 13 at center in 2022, when he was one of the nation’s top pass-protectors. The 6-foot-4, 288-pounder should be the favorite to win this position this offseason.”"

Offensive line improvement will be Hugh Freeze’s legacy during his Auburn football tenure

Hugh Freeze stacked the deck for his and Philip Montgomery’s first (and possibly Montgomery’s last) offense on the Plains. Montgomery could look to springboard the Auburn football offensive coordinator role to get another head coaching job, but Freeze is here for the long haul.

Anyway, in year one, Freeze improved the most important element of what makes a team competitive in the SEC: the offensive line. Since he hasn’t yet corralled a proven passer through the transfer portal, giving his talented rushing quarterback Robby Ashford and deep RB room more room to operate and big play hunt was his best course of action.

If the offensive line shows improvement and the Tigers win more games in 2023, Freeze’s legacy will likely have been defined by what he did to improve the OL.