When he arrived at Auburn last July, Mark-Antony Richards was expected to get at least some carries his freshman year and contend with Boobee Whitlow for the starting running back position. Instead, Richards injured his leg in fall camp and didn’t see the field once during his freshman season.
But following the Outback Bowl, Whitlow transferred, leaving an opening for Richards to work his way back into the rotation in a crowded running back room.
Along with Richards, the room has sophomore D.J. Williams, freshman Tank Bigsby, junior Shaun Shivers, redshirt sophomore Harold Joiner and senior Malik Miller.
Without spring practice, it’s tough to tell exactly how the room will shake out. When Whitlow went down with an injury last season, it was Williams that took over as the starter.
Bigsby is the blue-chip, prized recruit from the 2020 class who has been said to be very impressive on and off the field since arriving at Auburn. During his two years at Auburn thus far, Shivers has seen the field in a variety of different ways.
After redshirting his freshman season, Joiner was used primarily as a receiving back during the 2020 season. Miller will continue to see the field as a power back and a pass blocker.
But no one knows what role Richards will be, making him the running back X-Factor.
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When Richards signed with Auburn, head coach Gus Malzahn had high praise for the running back, comparing him to Kerryon Johnson.
“Mark-Antony, I really believe, was the most versatile running back in the country,” Malzahn said. “He can do a lot of different things. He’s a great running back, but he can catch the ball out of the backfield. I know a lot of people were recruiting him to play defensive back. He really reminds me of Kerryon Johnson. He can do a lot of different things. This guy is a real special player.”
Before spring practice was canceled, Richards was said to be healthy and ready to practice.
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