|photo by Klell Lawrence|
I saved this one for last, because it is by far the most talked about position of the Auburn defense the last 5 or 6 years. Linebackers are a special breed, and it takes a certain mentality to want to be a linebacker.
Gone are the days of old when a linebacker was a run stopper with a mean streak as wide as the gap in his front teeth. The position carries so much more responsibility now, that just being good at filling the line of scrimmage is not enough. He must be very good at pass coverage, reading screen passes, and recognizing end around runs, and the ever worrisome reverse.
Auburn returns Kris Frost at the Mike. Frost shared starting duties with the now graduated Jake Holland. Frost it seems is the man in the middle, but Coach Johnson has stated that he was going to "mix things up a bit" this Spring so that we can be more versatile next season. Frost will work some at the outside linebacker spot where Cassanova McKinzy is the returning starter. This should be something to keep an eye on this Spring.
Our Tigers also return JaViere Mitchell, Justin Garrett, Kenny Flowers, Anthony Swain, Daniel Pond, Cameron Toney, and Grant Smith. The new recruits consist of Tre Williams, and De'Shaun Davis. That's eleven players for two spots on the field. If the coaches can find enough good players to step up, the rotation could go 3 deep at each position. A luxury not seen at Auburn in at least the last 7 football seasons.
I see much improved play at these positions simply because they will be playing the exact same defense with the exact same coach as last season. Another luxury not seen at Auburn in several years. This is certainly the two positions most critical for depth to be forged this spring.