Bama writer coming along on Hugh Freeze's Auburn football program

Auburn Tigers head coach Hugh Freeze directs players during practice at Woltosz Football Performance
Auburn Tigers head coach Hugh Freeze directs players during practice at Woltosz Football Performance / Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

Bama Hammer's Ronald Evans is coming along on Hugh Freeze's Auburn football program.

Evans included AU among the SEC teams that could potentially rise in the coming years in the revamped conference that's adding Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12 and doing away with the East and West divisions.

"Will the 'new' SEC have a bottom nine of Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt? Mark Stoops has achieved impressive consistency in Lexington," Evans prefaced before saying, "After a strong rebound in 2023, Oklahoma should not be discounted. Maybe the Gators and the Aggies, perhaps even Auburn can become threats to the SEC's top teams."

Auburn football could be a serious riser in 2025

2024 could be a big step forward for the Tigers, with one of the easier schedules in the SEC and one of the easiest schedules Auburn has had since the the conference first expanded in 2012. Even still, there may not be enough talent and experience to take down Georgia, Alabama, Mizzou, and Texas A&M.

7-5 or 8-4 seems like the most likely outcome for the 2024 season, but another step forward in 2025 seems more likely. Especially given the fact that the schedule will be nearly identical in 2025; assuming another round of conference realignment doesn't upend it. For all we know, the announced schedule could just be a placeholder.

But if that is the schedule, and Freeze and Co. continue recruiting at the high level they've been, the Tigers may be a set-in-stone quarterback away from making things happen. Payton Thorne, who has looked improved throughout the spring, is out of eligibility, but Hank Brown could be the answer if he continues his own improvement. Don't write off a leap from Walker White or Holden Geriner either, as both have been working to rise in the QB rotation too.

And if all else fails, there's always the transfer portal. By 2025, Gus Malzahn's buyout money will be paid in full and Bryan Harsin's will be a year from completion. Funds should be available by then to land a game-changer in the portal if Freeze finds a fit he's comfortable forking over the bag to.