It will be the upperclassmen as much as it will be those who made their way to the Plains via the transfer portal who will help lead Auburn football “just as much as the new coaches” according to AL.com’s Matt Cohen.
“That leads back, again, to the ones who stayed,” Cohen prefaced before saying, “They’ll likely be the ones to lead Auburn just as much as the new coaches. That’s why Freeze said he brought Stutts and Deal to Nashville. Neither may be Auburn’s biggest star player, but both will be crucial for their longevity.”
As Cohen points out, Hugh Freeze brought tight end Luke Deal and offensive tackle Kameron Stutts to SEC Media Days 2023 as a symbol of who he’ll need to rely on as a leadership liaison for the Tigers. Furthermore, junior running back Jarquez Hunter, senior wideout Ja’Varrius Johnson, and perhaps even second-year Tiger Robby Ashford figure to serve that role on the offensive side of the ball; with senior cornerbacks Nehemiah Pritchett and 2022 transfer D.J. James, and redshirt senior safeties Zion Puckett and Jaylin Simpson doing the same on the defensive side of the ball.
Auburn football could struggle out of the gate during 2023 season: Analyst
Cohen had a scary thought that many Auburn football fans may not even be willing to hear after two years of Bryan Harsin-coached pigskin: the Tigers could struggle out of the gate in their first month under Freeze.
“Freeze told television reporters while he’s had success turning around programs like Ole Miss and Liberty quickly, Auburn might be more difficult because he’s never had so many new players to mold into a unit before,” Cohen prefaced before saying, “Freeze will admit he doesn’t have all the answers yet. It might mean a team that struggles out the gate of the season in non-conference games against UMass, Cal and Samford.”
Truly, that is one of the absolute worst possible scenarios Tiger fans could possibly face. A 40-point cover in Week 1 is a mighty ask, but imagine struggling against UMass? Even Cal is a school that shouldn’t look close to being on AU’s level.
Pray that Cohen is wrong on this one, but right about the team’s upperclassmen stepping up.