This week, we're profiling two younger players who are set to make their mark this season.
Sophomore guard Alex Kozan is one of three Auburn players making the Outland Trophy Watch List. (We'll profile Gabe Wright and Reese Dismukes in the coming weeks.) Awarded to the nation's top interior lineman, the SEC dominates the list with 19 of 64 names. Other teams landing three players on the list include: Alabama, Texas A&M and South Carolina (all Auburn opponents this year), as well as Auburn's BCS Championship foes Florida State and Oregon.
As a redshirt freshman, Kozan started each game and was named to Sporting News Freshmen All-American and Freshman All-SEC lists. He'll be an integral part of the offensive line again this year.
On the other side of the ball, junior linebacker Kris Frost was named to the Butkus Award Watch List, presented annually to the best linebacker. Named for famed linebacker Dick Butkus, there are 51 players on the list--the same number he wore for the Chicago Bears. SEC competition includes Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney, Alabama's Trey DePriest, and Tennessee's A.J. Johnson. Georgia has three players on the watch list, including Ramik Wilson, who had 18 tackles in last season's loss to Auburn.
In 2013, Frost split time with Jake Holland at middle linebacker, but still accounted for 59 tackles on the season. Getting the start versus Texas A&M, he recorded six tackles and a tackle for loss. Frost forced fumbles against Florida Atlantic and Missouri and recovered an Arkansas fumble.
Coach Ellis Johnson has been experimenting with some lineup changes, and Frost is expected to move from middle to outside linebacker, swapping spots with Cassanova McKinzy.
As the season progresses, we'll keep an eye on how Kozan and Frost are stacking up against the competition.