Hugh Freeze has done a nice job constructing Auburn’s roster in his second offseason as the team’s head coach. His high school recruiting class included two five-star freshmen wide receivers, and he added considerably on both sides of the ball in the transfer portal.
On top of his additions to the roster, one of the best things about Freeze’s offseason is that he didn’t lose much to the portal. The roster churn across college football is fast becoming a yearly inevitability. Still, Auburn only has 14 outgoing transfers, and four are wide receivers because of the fantastic recruiting cycle at that position.
2023 wasn’t perfect for the Tigers and hanging on to beat Alabama certainly would have helped the outlook, but Freeze has made some noise. That makes Auburn an intriguing team in the SEC next season, but to make the leap into SEC contention, it will have to lean on its portal additions and do it without its biggest losses.
Let’s start with the good news, the best players out of Auburn’s class of nine incoming transfers.
Dillon Wade had a solid season in 2023 at left tackle and he’ll likely be starting on the left side again next fall. However, Freeze brought Lewis in to flip around and upgrade the right tackle spot in front of quarterback Payton Thorne.
Last season, Izavion Miller allowed a team-high 21 pressures in 612 pass-blocking snaps at right tackle which was a clear position of need for the Tigers even with Miller returning in 2024.
Percy Lewis will need to switch positions but will be a perfect fit at right tackle. This year he only allowed seven pressures and two sacks in his 431 snaps at left tackle for Mississippi State. 2023 was his first year starting, so the ceiling is still high for a player who already got his feet wet in the SEC.
Texas was already heading to the conference in 2024, but two members of the Longhorns defense made the switch to a more traditional SEC team. Carter played just one season in Austin after three at Minnesota and is using his final year of eligibility with the Tigers.
Carter played 246 snaps on the defensive line last season and at 6-foot-2 300-pounds, he was effective against the run and posted eight stops in the run game. Carter totaled eight pressures as a pass rusher and two sacks, but will certainly take on an increased role with Auburn.
Unlike Carter, Thompson was a full-time start for Texas, but after a College Football Playoff disappointment opted to play out his final year elsewhere. Thompson was largely effective in coverage with four pass breakups and three interceptions, but he also allowed five touchdown grabs and 304 yards while in coverage.
Thompson will be a key in the secondary for Auburn because of his ball-hawking abilities, but he missed a team-high 15 tackles last season so he could be exposed in the run game or after the catch. At 6-foot 190 pounds, Carter primarily lines up as a free safety or slot cornerback and lacks the physicality to improve Auburn’s run defense which ranked 78th in the country in 2023.