Ole Miss transfer linebacker Austin Keys is “hungry” to help the Auburn football defense become an elite unit nationally once again, so says Auburn Daily’s Joshua Collins, who pegged the Collins, Mississippi native as his breakout candidate to watch for Ron Roberts’ point-prevention — and if the new defensive coordinator had his way, secondary point-producing — unit in 2023.
“I believe he is hungry to play and equally hungry to help this defense get back to being one of the best in the nation, and for that reason I feel he will be the breakout defensive player this 2023 season,” Collins wrote.
Keys fell outside the Rebels’ top 10 in tackles during the 2022 season, but he would’ve been the eighth-highest total on the Tigers. Against Auburn, Keys had three tackles, one of them being a solo tackle, in a 48-34 Ole Miss win over AU on October 15.
Auburn football coaches got everything they wanted in Ole Miss transfer
Collins’ praising of Keys was hardly the first to be sent in the direction of the former Rebel linebacker. Back in April, AU linebackers coach Josh Aldridge said Keys was “everything” the program thought he’d be.
“Austin Keys has been everything I thought he’d be,” Aldridge (h/t AL.com). “He’s got to clean some detail stuff up. But I think we definitely did not miss on him by any means.”
Roberts similarly lauded Keys for being a can’t-miss prospect, though his praise was devoid of even the type of caution Aldridge spoke with.
“He’s got the SEC experience,” Roberts said. “He’s big. He’s physical. He runs exceptionally well. He’s intelligent. He’s very smart. He’s picked things up really fast.”
With the Tigers’ coaches speaking this way about Keys, and beat writers joining in contributing to the Ole Miss transfer’s hype train, Auburn fans shouldn’t be surprised when there’s a new fortifying presence in the middle stopping opposing offenses from going for the types of game-breaking plays that have been burning the program for the past two seasons.