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.
Tight End / H-back:
Chandler Cox, Jalen Harris
Sal Cannella, John Samuel Shenker
This is an interesting position group to look at just because we don't know exactly how it's going to be used during the 2017 football season. We had an idea in Malzahn's early years, but then attrition and losses at the TE position meant that it wasn't used very much in 2015 and 2016. Now, with Chip Lindsey running the offense, we don't know what it's going to look like.
We can assume that Auburn will throw to the TE more in 2017. It would be hard to throw to the TE less than we did the last two seasons. Of course, I doubt we'll be as efficient throwing to the TE as we were in 2016, either. Two passes. Two touchdowns. You can't beat that.
For proof that the TE will be more involved look no further than the signing of John Samuel Shenker. We knew that Auburn needed TE depth that was ready to play, so the Tigers got one of the best JUCO TEs in the country with Sal Cannella. Then, instead of signing a more traditional fullback, the Tigers went for a true TE in John Samuel Shenker. Lindsey wants options that he can throw to.
So what does that mean for Chandler Cox? Well, Cox has shown that he can catch, too. It may not mean that much. What we do know is that Lindsey will want to keep players on the field - at least until there are stoppages in play - so that the team can play fast. We hope. So, he's going for more versatile players who are more natural pass catchers that can also block.
A strong TE has been a huge missing piece the last two seasons. I think that's going to change this year, and it can open up a wide range of new possibilities for the Tigers.
H-back: Chandler Cox, obviously. He's really the only option.
TE: Sal Cannella. I like Jalen Harris, but Cannella is someone who was signed to play immediately.