Over next two weeks I’ll take a look at the top five players at each position Auburn will face this fall.
Ask any Auburn fan on the internet about how to improve the Tigers offense and chances are good that one of their first suggestions would be to throw to the tight end more. So that group will really love this list today where we break down the top five tight ends on Auburn’s schedule in 2021.
5.) Brenton Strange (Penn State)
2020 Stats: 17 rec 164 yds (9.6 avg) 2 TD
Career Stats: 18 rec 168 yds (9.3 avg) 3 TD
The Nittany Lions’ offense heavily features the tight end and they had an absolute stud in Pat Freiermurth who is thankfully gone to the NFL. However, he went down late in the 2020 season with a shoulder injury which allowed rising sophomore Brenton Strange to flash what he can do over those final five games and what he did was impressive. Backup tight end Theo Johnson looked good too. Chances are good the two will combine to put up some impressive numbers this fall.
4.) Nick Muse (South Carolina)
2020 Stats: 30 rec 425 yds (14.2 avg) TD
Career Stats: 47 rec 583 yds (12.4 avg) TD
The William & Mary transfer broke out in a big way as senior for the Gamecocks finishing 2nd in receptions and receiving yards behind Shi Smith. To Shane Beamer’s delight, he elected to use his extra year of eligibility and gives South Carolina a proven receiving weapon for whomever ends up getting the starting nod this fall. He finished 2020 on a high note going for over 100 against the Dawgs.
3.) Jahleel Billingsley (Alabama)
2020 Stats: 18 rec 287 yds (15.9 avg) 3 TD
Career Stats: 20 rec 303 yds (15.2 avg) 3 TD
There’s a lot of buzz on the Capstone that Billingsley is poised to have a big time junior season. The Chicago native roasted Jamien Sherwood on a crossing route in the Iron Bowl so Auburn fans are well aware of his athleticism. He really emerged late in 2020 as the #3 weapon in the receiving attack behind Devonta Smith and John Metchie. That role is likely to only increase in Bill O’Brien’s offense.
2.) Arik Gilbert (Georgia)
2020 & Career Stats: 35 rec 368 yds (10.5 avg) 2 TD
Gilbert is the highest rated in 247 history. He was a shocking pull for Ed Orgeron following their incredible 2019 season with Gilbert choosing LSU over Alabama and Georgia. However, as the season went sideways, Gilbert elected to opt out and stepped away from the team. He then entered the portal and committed to Florida but academics prevented him from being admitted. Gilbert reentered the portal and this time Kirby wasn’t gonna let him get away. The freak athlete is headed to Athens to “play wide receiver” along with another freaky tight end prospect Darnell Washington. UGA has wasted way better talent at this position than Auburn in recent seasons. Is this finally the year they figure how how to feature the tight end?
1.) Jalen Wydermyer (Texas A&M)
2020 Stats: 46 rec 504 yds (11.0 avg) 6 TD
Career Stas: 78 rec 953 yds (12.2 avg) 12 TD
Jimbo Fisher’s offense is at its best when he has an NFL caliber tight end and buddy does he have one in Wydermyer. Auburn fans should be painfully aware of the big man who caught the dagger touchdown in Jordan-Hare after it bounced out of Zakoby McClain’s hands (what a wild timeline we might be in if that’s caught). Wydermyer was a problem for every defense last season and is likely to be one of the first tight ends off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft.