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Auburn Football 2016 Depth Chart For Clemson Game

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Auburn released its depth chart for the first game of 2016 this morning. There are definitely some interesting things to note about it.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

On the list of days in the off-season you look forward to the most just prior to the season beginning, Depth Chart Day has to be up there. We've heard all the reports of "Player A may actually be ahead of Player B" in practice, but now we get to see where they really line up in the pecking order.

OFFENSE

Are there surprised on the offense? Yes, there are. Quite a few, actually. Let's take a look!

Quarterback

Sean White (6-0, 200, So.)
Jeremy Johnson (6-5, 234, Sr.) OR 
John Franklin III (6-1, 186, Jr.)

No real surprise here. We knew Sean was the starter and that we weren't likely to know the backup.

Running back

Kerryon Johnson (6-0, 211, So.)
Kamryn Pettway (6-0, 240, So.)

I really thought this one might be the other way around. I thought Kamryn Pettway was going to get the starting nod. They're both going to play a considerable amount, I'm sure, though.

H-Back

Chandler Cox (6-1, 236, So.)
Landon Rice (6-5, 253, Fr.)

Tight end

Jalen Harris (6-4, 259, So.) OR
Landon Rice (6-5, 253, Fr.)

These two positions are almost the same thing in Gus Malzahn's offense. It just depends on how the player is being used. I like seeing Rice in the 2-deep at both spots. We need someone with the versatility to stay out on the field and play both roles so that no substitutions are needed and everything is still wide open in terms of play calls.

Receiver

Marcus Davis (5-9, 180, Sr.)
Nate Craig-Myers (6-2, 204, Fr.) OR
Jason Smith (6-1, 188, Jr.)

Receiver

Ryan Davis (5-9, 172, So.)
Eli Stove (6-0, 177, Fr.)

Receiver

Stanton Truitt (5-9, 185, So.) OR
Will Hastings (5-10, 172, So.)

Receiver

Darius Slayton (6-2, 191, RFr.)
Tony Stevens (6-4, 212, Sr.) OR
Kyle Davis (6-2, 219, Fr.)

How often will Auburn really line up in a 4-WR set? The majority will probably be three WRs with two RBs or some combination with the H-back/TE, etc. Either way, there are some intriguing things here. One is that Nate Craig-Myers and Jason Smith are listed with the "OR" behind Marcus Davis. I thought Smith would have a starting spot of his own.

The other three are even more intriguing. Ryan Davis and Stanton Truitt are getting the nods as starters in the slot with Eli Stove and Will Hastings backing them up respectively. Eli Stove has a ton of promise as a freshman, but Ryan Davis may be one of the fastest players on the team. The Will Hastings story is really setting up to be a great one. More on him later.

The biggest shocker of all, though, may be Darius Slayton getting the nod over Tony Stevens. I guess Lashlee really wasn't kidding about Stevens' consistency issues. Of course, we've seen that on the field enough to know it's true. This does at least show they'll ride with the redshirt freshman over the senior if needed. Then there's the fact that Stevens is listed with an "OR" alongside true freshman Kyle Davis - who missed most of camp. Slayton will likely be the deep threat for this offense, so let's hope he gets plenty of opportunities to catch that big play deep ball.

Left tackle

Austin Golson (6-5, 314, Jr.)
Darius James (6-4, 320, Jr.)

Left guard

Alex Kozan (6-4, 310, Sr.)
Deon Mix (6-4, 315, Jr.) OR 
Marquel Harrell (6-3, 318, RFr.)

Center

Xavier Dampeer (6-2, 310, Sr.)
Kaleb Kim (6-4, 290, RFr.)

Right guard

Braden Smith (6-6, 300, Jr.)
Mike Horton (6-4, 331, RFr.)

Right tackle

Robert Leff (6-6, 299, Sr.)
Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. (6-8, 282, RFr.)

The offensive line is what I've really been waiting for, since we had no clear idea who would back up the starters, here. I like seeing Kaleb Kim listed behind Dampeer since Kim is the presumed starter at Center next season. Mike Horton was on the 2-deep behind Braden Smith all of last year, so that's no surprise.

What is interesting is to see Prince Tega Wanogho Jr listed behind Robert Leff at right tackle. Prince Tega was recruited at the defensive end spot after a very short high school career. He redshirted last season after a horrific leg injury in high school basketball. Now he's been moved over to offense and already has a spot on the 2-deep at tackle. I don't know if I should be thrilled that he's learned that quickly or terrified at what it may mean for our offensive line depth.

DEFENSE

Buck end

Carl Lawson (6-2, 253, Jr.)
Jeff Holland (6-2, 250, So.)

Defensive tackle

Dontavius Russell (6-3, 308, So.)
Maurice Swain Jr. (6-5, 314, Sr.) OR
Andrew Williams (6-4, 289, So.)

Defensive tackle

Montravius Adams (6-4, 309, Sr.)
Derrick Brown (6-5, 330, Fr.) OR 
Devaroe Lawrence (6-2, 303, Sr.)

Defensive end

Marlon Davidson (6-3, 273, Fr.)
Byron Cowart (6-3, 276, So.) OR
Paul James III (6-4, 271, Jr.)

Okay, so, I don't know where to begin. Lawson and Holland were knowns. The rest... Huh. That's unexpected.

It's important to note that almost everyone on this 2-deep is going to play quite a few snaps in every game. Auburn is going to rotate defensive linemen like it's going out of style.

Still, Devaroe Lawrence listed as an "OR" with true freshman Derrick Brown behind Monty Adams? I honestly thought Lawrence might start at the other tackle spot beside Adams, not be in this position. RS Sophomore Dontavius Russell continues to impress by getting the starting nod at the other tackle spot with Maurice Swain and Andrew Williams behind him.

Then there's the other defensive end slot. True freshman Marlon Davidson gets the nod. Dontavius Russell started last season as a redshirt freshman against Louisville, but this time it's a true freshman at a very key spot starting against one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. It's impressive that he beat out true sophomore Byron Cowart - one of the nation's top recruits in 2015 - but he's also ahead of the top JUCO defensive end in the 2016 class in Paul James. That's exciting. Or terrifying. We'll find out which very soon.

Middle linebacker

Deshaun Davis (5-11, 239, So.) OR
Tre' Williams (6-2, 240, Jr.)

Weak-side linebacker

Montavious Atkinson (6-1, 211, So.) OR
T.J. Neal (6-0, 235, Sr.)

Strong-side linebacker

Darrell Williams (6-2, 231, So.)
Richard McBryde (6-1, 231 RFr.)

Well, now, that is not how I would have predicted the linebacker 2-deep to end up. Not even close! I thought for sure Tre Williams would be locked in as a starter, but instead, he's an "OR" with sophomore Deshaun Davis. Meanwhile, sophomore Montavious Atkinson, who has moved down from Safety, is listed as "OR" with graduate transfer T.J. Neal! I hope that means those younger guys have just been extremely impressive.

How often will the Tigers play three linebackers in 2016? Probably less than you may think. Still, though, two underclassmen in Darrell Williams and Richard McBryde get the spots at strong-side linebacker. I think that may be our depth issues showing through, there, but both were fairly highly recruited.

Cornerback

Javaris Davis (5-10, 182, RFr.)
Josh Holsey (5-11, 195, Sr.)

Free safety

Rudy Ford (6-0, 204, Sr.)
Nick Ruffin (6-0, 203, Jr.)

Strong safety

Tray Matthews (6-1, 207, Jr.)
Markell Boston (6-0, 200, So.)

Cornerback

Carlton Davis (6-1, 195, So.)
John Broussard Jr. (5-11, 168, Fr.)

Nickel

Rudy Ford (6-0, 204, Sr.)
Josh Holsey (5-11, 195, Sr.)

For the defensive backs, there aren't too many surprises. Stephen Roberts is suspended, so of course you don't see his name on the chart. He would probably be filling Markell Boston's slot if he were there.

It's a bit disconcerting to see Rudy Ford and Josh Holsey listed as much as they are, but also not surprising. They're both capable of playing multiple positions and hopefully the depth issues never become so dire that we're hurting if one needs to slide over to another position.

Wow, we're young at cornerback. True sophomore Carlton Davis and true freshman (early enrollee) John Broussard Jr are listed on one side with redshirt freshman Javaris Davis and senior Josh Holsey listed on the other side. I wonder if Holsey's injuries are still an issue or if Javaris Davis is just that good? Muschamp was particularly enamored with him, so perhaps he'll be a revelation similar to his counterpart Carlton from last season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

Daniel Carlson (6-4, 218, Jr.)
Ian Shannon (6-3, 218, RFr.)

Hopefully nothing happens to #Legatron. I don't know how good Shannon would be at FGs, but #Legatron is one of the nation's best.

Punter

Kevin Phillips (6-0, 185, Sr.)
Ian Shannon (6-3, 218, RFr.)

Holder

Tyler Stovall (6-1, 212, Jr.)
John Franklin III (6-1, 186, Jr.)

Long-snapper

Ike Powell (6-3, 264, Jr.)
Zach Wade (5-10, 182, So.) OR
Clarke Smith (6-3, 239, Fr.)

Punt returner

Marcus Davis (5-9, 180, Sr.)
Ryan Davis (5-9, 172, So.)

Just catch the football. Or let it bounce depending on field position. Be smart and don't give up bad field position and I'll be happy.

Kick returner

Rudy Ford (6-0, 204, Sr.) AND Kerryon Johnson (6-0, 211, So.)
Kam Martin (5-10, 177, Fr.) AND Stanton Truitt (5-9, 185, So.)

That's a lot of speed, right there.