Auburn football: Jarquez Hunter in the conversation for top RB in the SEC

Auburn Tigers running back Jarquez Hunter (27) runs the ball during the A-Day spring game at
Auburn Tigers running back Jarquez Hunter (27) runs the ball during the A-Day spring game at / Jake Crandall/ Advertiser / USA TODAY

Mike Farrell (of the Mike Farrell Sports brand) believes Auburn football has a horse in the race for the SEC's best running back: fourth-year rusher Jarquez Hunter, a Bryan Harsin-era recruit who has risen to the role of top back by production and volume after initially sitting behind Tank Bigsby on the depth chart despite oftentimes outperforming the current Jacksonville Jaguar.

Farrell stopped short of giving Hunter that distinction, handing it to South Carolina's Raheim "Rocket" Sanders after three dominant years at Arkansas. Florida's Montrell Johnson Jr. was also put in that mix.

"With so many elite RBs gone, give me a healthy Rocket Sanders at South Carolina as the top dog (in the SEC)," Farrell prefaced before saying, "I think he shows us what he did during his healthy peak at Arkansas and makes a massive impact in Columbia. Montrell Johnson Jr. at Florida and Jarquez Hunter at Auburn are very good but I’m banking on a big return for Rocket."

Auburn football RB room pecking order re-arranged during A-Day

If the 2024 A-Day spring game is any indication, the Tigers' running back room will have a bit of a different pecking order this Fall. While Hunter is still the clear top back in the room, it appears as though former Montgomery Catholic star Jeremiah Cobb has become RB2, with third-year Damari Alston behind him and ex-USF transfer/returner Brian Battie getting the least snaps of anyone. Battie attempted to transfer in the offseason but ultimately withdrew his name from the portal.

Hugh Freeze may have adjusted to his personnel's injuries with his rotation or Battie may have fallen out of favor after attempting to leave the Plains in the offseason. That much isn't completely clear.

What is clear is that Hunter will still be the most used RB in the backfield and if Cobb masters the playbook, something he didn't do in 2023 as a freshman, he could be to Hunter what Hunter was to Bigsby in 2021 and 2022.