One of Auburn’s major question marks heading into fall camp was depth in the secondary.
Auburn filled that hole on Monday prior to its first practice with a returning player on the offensive side of the ball.
Senior Jason Smith moved from wide receiver to defensive back, trading in his No. 4 for No. 25.
“That’s a move that he’s really been wanting to do, even during the summer,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “It gives us depth at the safety position. He’s a guy that will understand offenses.
“I think he can come in there and do a solid job and help us in that area.”
Smith will help fill the holes in the backend of the defense behind seniors Tray Matthews, Stephen Roberts and Nick Ruffin.
Smith took the majority of the reps as the second-team safety on Monday.
“He’s a guy who wants to help the team,” senior linebacker Tre’ Williams said. “He looked really good today on defense. I’m excited to watch him play.”
Smith’s move to the defensive side of the ball is similar to that of former Auburn receiver turned defensive back Trovon Reed, who switched to defensive back prior to his senior season in 2014. Reed is now competing for a starting job at defensive back for the Los Angeles Chargers.
“That is someone we talked about when we were talking through the situation,” Malzahn said. “Trovon played receiver, and played it well and Jason has done the same thing. He moved over his senior year, and did a good job. There are definitely some similarities.”
Smith, who came to Auburn as a quarterback from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, played two seasons as a wide receiver with limited success. The Mobile native had 13 catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore in 2015. He had just four catches for 60 yards last season for the Tigers.