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.
Tony Stevens, Marcus Davis
Jason Smith, Kyle Davis, Darius Slayton, Eli Stove, Nate Craig-Myers, Ryan Davis, Marquis McClain, Will Hastings
Noah Igbinoghene, JaTarvious Whitlow
Yes, Tony Stevens is a key loss. Shut up. He was much better last year (especially in the early season). As for those coming back, man that's a stacked receiver corps. And a very young group, too. Your upperclassmen are Jason Smith, Ryan Davis, and Will Hastings. The rest are sophomores or redshirt freshmen (Marquis McClain).
What's talent without a passing game, though, right? That's what Chip Lindsey was brought in for: to improve the Tigers' passing game. We know Sean White is accurate - though he struggles with the deep ball. We know Jarrett Stidham was a pretty good-to-great all around QB in his limited time action while at Baylor. Hopefully, all of these factors combine to produce a kick ass passing game that utilizes the ridiculous talent in this group.
The hardest thing with them is figuring out how they're going to spread the playing time around. I think it's safe to say that Kyle Davis is a starter. I would pencil in Eli Stove as well after the way he came on strong as the sweep option at the end of the year. After that, it gets tricky. Darius Slayton played very well, Nate Craig-Myers was excellent in his limited time, and word out of practice last fall was that Marquis McClain could be freakishly good.
Auburn signed only two receivers in the 2017 class in part because last year's class was so good. Noah Igbinoghene is a track star (he set records a few weeks back in the triple jump) and can be a real burner to get behind defenses. Whitlow has some nifty moves that may make him the perfect screen option to shake loose defenders.
I can't remember the last time Auburn had talent at this level across the board at wide receiver. The closest I can think of is the 2004 group. If Chip Lindsey is able to upgrade the passing game and the QB play improves a bit more, then this could be a scary passing offense.
And that won't even be the primary way we try to gain yards. But, more on that tomorrow.
Three Wide: Kyle Davis, Darius Slayton, Nate Craig-Myers
Four Wide: Kyle Davis, Darius Slayton, Eli Stove, Nate Craig-Myers