With signing day behind us and a new class of Tigers on board, it's time to turn our attention to what this football team may look like going into the 2017 season. We still have spring practice to go and many of the 2017 recruiting class won't arrive until this summer, but it's the offseason and a time of making up content, so that's what we're doing.
Alex Kozan, Xavier Dampeer, Robert Leff
Austin Golson, Braden Smith, Darius James, Mike Horton, Kaleb Kim, Prince Tega Wanogho, Deon Mix, Prince Michael Sammons, Tyler Carr, Bailey Sharp
Austin Troxell, Nick Brahms, Calvin Ashley, Brodarious Hamm
I'm including Brodarious Hamm as a signee just because this will be the first year he's actually at Auburn and eligible following his fight with cancer. The offensive line is a strange animal. I really have no idea what it's going to look like this season. There are a number of combinations we can go with.
There's a chance that the starters will be the Princes on the end with Darius James, Austin Golson, and Braden Smith in the interior line. It could be one of the Princes (most like Tega Wanogho) at a tackle spot and 5* signee Calvin Ashley at the other. Darius James could stay at tackle. Mike Horton could beat him out for a Guard spot and someone else beats him out at tackle. They may decide Horton is too good to keep off the field as one of the starting five and give him a Guard spot and kick Braden Smith out to Right Tackle. This could go so many ways that I don't even want to think about it too much.
The good news is that Herb Hand is a great OL coach and he's got plenty of tools to work with to come up with the best combination. When his original lineup didn't work as well at the beginning of last season and he shuffled it around (due to injury, as well), he stuck with that lineup once it was clear it was the best one. He'll find the best places to put everyone, and he'll have a great offensive line. They'll have great running backs to block for. They should have a great QB to protect. This is a unit I'm really not worried about at all. There's tons of talent and depth and they're in excellent hands.
From LT to RT: Calvin Ashley, Darius James, Austin Golson, Braden Smith, Prince Tega Wanogho
I'm going with Ashley winning the LT job because I think Prince Michael Sammons may need a bit more work since he was behind due to his foot surgery last season. I could be completely off base and the tackle spots swap. Or, as noted above, Mike Horton may take a Guard spot and kick Smith out to Tackle and Prince Tega starts on the left side. We really won't have much of a clue until spring practice starts. Which is in 11 days.