Spring ball is little more than a month away. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the faces and names will largely remain the same. Here is a look at the 10 under-the-radar players fans should know/remember going into spring practice.
LB Jessel Curry
RB Dontae Aycock
No more Ben Tate means Auburn’s remaining true tailbacks will have opportunities to impress coaches this spring.
The likely contenders are Onterio McCalebb, Mario Fannin, Eric Smith and redshirt freshman Dontae Aycock. All have plenty to prove – Fannin needs to dispel the ball-security issues he has struggled with off and on, Smith must show he can stay out of trouble and is quick enough to be a feature back and McCalebb needs to show increased durability.
Aycock seemingly has the most to prove, however, because the other three players have at least shown particular skill sets at the collegiate level. Not only has Aycock not done anything in college yet, he hasn’t even played the position regularly.
Aycock was a high school quarterback, though he ran an option offense. He rushed for 1,406 yards and 28 touchdowns as a high school senior and finished with 6,000 total yards in his high-school career.
Running backs coach Curtis Luper has no doubt Aycock can be successful at tailback, but he will only have a limited time to prove himself. That’s because RB Michael Dyer will arrive this summer. He is the most highly anticipated tailback to come to Auburn since Carnell Williams and one of the most highly anticipated in the last decade.
Dyer can’t prove himself at the college level before he arrives on campus, though. That’s where Aycock’s advantage comes. With a strong spring, he could put himself in position to earn carries in the fall. A poor spring, however, might leave him as an outsider looking in. With Dyer as a freshman and McCalebb already entrenched in a niche role as a sophomore, Aycock could find himself behind at least two players his entire Auburn career.
In other words, few players have as much to gain – or lose – as Aycock this spring.