Auburn Tigers News: JACK returning for another season, safety heading to NFL, and Payton Thorne on 2024 improvement

In today's edition of Auburn Tigers News, two more football players make decisions about their futures, and QB Payton Thorne talks about improvements ahead of the 2024 season.

Sep 23, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; Auburn Tigers linebacker Jalen McLeod (35) and linebacker
Sep 23, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; Auburn Tigers linebacker Jalen McLeod (35) and linebacker / Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
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In today's edition of Auburn Tigers News, two more football players make decisions about their futures, and QB Payton Thorne talks about improvements ahead of the 2024 season.

Many Auburn Tigers had decisions to make about whether to stay on the Plains for another season or declare for the 2024 NFL Draft. So far, DJ James, Marcus Harris, and Nehemiah Pritchett have all declared for the NFL and also opted out of the bowl game. Jaylin Simpson has declared for the draft but will play in the bowl game. Eugene Asante and Keionte Scott have both elected to play another year with Auburn football.

Earlier today, two more players made big decisions about their futures. JACK Jalen McLeod, who transferred ahead of the 2023 season from App State, has decided to spend another year with the Tigers. McLeod dealt with injuries at the very beginning of the season but ultimately was a key player for the Auburn defense.

Meanwhile, senior safety Zion Puckett announced he will pursue a career in the NFL, but will still participate in the bowl game at the end of the month. A two-year starter, Puckett spent five seasons total on the Plains.

Payton Thorne plans major improvements for 2024 season

Auburn football QB1 Payton Thorne got off to a rough start in 2023, though it wasn't entirely his fault. Thorne arrived late in the year for a transfer, in the middle of the summer, and had hardly any time to learn the playbook or take meaningful practice snaps ahead of the season.

With it looking like the Tigers will pass on a transfer quarterback and ride with Thorne in 2024, the QB plans to dive into the playbook and learn everything he can about the system so he can be as helpful as possible to his teammates on the field, per AL.com:

“It’s just what I said earlier: getting into the playbook and we’ll see what that is in January,” Thorne said. “Really just diving into it and knowing every single detail. Knowing the entire thing so I can go teach these guys. That’s how I was in the past at my last place. I was able to really communicate with those guys a lot.”

With a full offseason to develop and improve, it's likely that Thorne will perform more consistently like he did in the second half of the season and Auburn football will have an improved offense in 2024.