Another A-Day has come and gone, and with that comes new candidates for rising stars and breakout players.
Those players might become clear in spring with A-Day, or they may develop through the season. At the last A-Day, JaTarvious Whitlow started to separate himself as the starting running back, while players such as Anthony Schwartz, Seth Williams, Shaun Shivers, Smoke Monday and Christian Tutt developed as play makers during the season. Now the question turns to who will have breakout seasons this year.
Matthew Hill | Sophomore wide receiver — Coming in as Auburn's second-highest rated recruit in the 2018 class and the highest rated receiver, Hill was expected to make an impact last season. That did not end up happening, but now looks to be Hill's time to shine. Hill has long, lengthy arms that let him catch specifically placed balls while having the ability to make guys miss in open space. Hill had an impressive A-Day, snaring five passes for a game-high 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Marquis McClain | Redshirt junior wide receiver — McClain is somebody who has already started to turn heads in spring practice. The big receiver has been practicing in the nine slot, which is where Darius Slayton was last season. McClain has made it clear that he wants the ball and this is his year to prove it.
Harold Joiner | Redshirt freshman running back - Joiner came in as an odd specimen, listed as a running back, standing at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds. This could be the year Joiner shows how imposing of an athlete he is by playing multiple positions. He has played running back, receiver and tight end so far this spring. Joiner has also been seen in two running back formation with Whitlow and Kam Martin.
D.J. Williams | Freshman running back — Williams is making a case to be Auburn's hidden gem of the 2019 class. Auburn jumped on him right as he became a three-star, and every big program offered when he became a four-star. He chose Auburn because it saw potential before the rating. Williams has impressed his team as a physical runner at 5-foot-10 and 216 pounds. He is also extremely fast and has a great burst of speed that you do not always see in bigger backs. Williams has also been working at kick return. Williams has a good first go at A-Day, recording nine carries for 56 yards a run of 29 yards.
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Offensive line — The offensive line has arguably been the best performing group this spring and has continued to improve after starting slow last season.
Coynis Miller | Sophomore defensive tackle — Miller arrived in the 2018 as Auburn's highest-rated defensive player. Miller showed up more in second half of season but with Dontavius Russell gone, Miller looks to be the top candidate to replace him. The position looks to be up for grabs and Miller will have to fight Tyrone Truesdell, who has been making strides for it.
Richard Jibunor | Sophomore buck linebacker — Jibunor arrived at Auburn in the 2018 class as a "freak of nature." A gifted athlete with a nose for the ball, Jibunor made his first presence known against Purdue in the Music City Bowl, recording three solo tackles, two assisted tackles and one tackle for loss. Jibunor has gotten bigger and stronger over the past year — it may be hard to not give him chances this season.
Chandler Wooten | Junior linebacker — Wooten has seemed to have taken his game to a whole different level this past year. Earning a good bit of playing time while Darrell Williams was dealing with a shoulder injury, Wooten looks to become a mainstay at the linebacker position. Wooten left Auburn's A-Day with an apparent knee injury.
Owen Pappoe | Freshman linebacker — The hottest defensive name for Auburn in the 2019 class, Pappoe has shown up this spring and is in the running for serious playing time behind Zakoby McClain. Pappoe's extreme athleticism and ability to be great in pass defense will get him on the field. Pappoe performed well at A-Day, getting reps in with the first-team defense.
Zion Puckett | Freshman defensive back — Puckett has shown this spring that he may be the most physical player in the secondary. He has shown that he is not afraid to drive somebody into the dirt in Tiger Drill. Expect him to to break the depth chart at safety this fall.
Secondary — Auburn returns a secondary that struggled at times last but return quality leadership. The secondary is being led by a group of seniors in Daniel Thomas, Javaris Davis and Jeremiah Dinson — also with two players in Devan Barrett and Noah Igbinoghene who started at Auburn on offense but have shown vast improvement on defense. The leadership and reps versus SEC opponents should show this following season.
Anders Carlson — Carlson did not have have the best season last year, hitting 15 of 25 kicks while being perfect on extra points. Expect him to have a better season this year with another year under his belt. Carlson had a 46-yard field goal at A-Day.
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