While Auburn will be returning its starting quarterback, there will be plenty of roster turnover for the 2020 season.
The Tigers will have almost a completely new look in the trenches with four offensive linemen leaving and Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe all heading to the NFL.
Along with the losses on the defensive line, Auburn will have to replace four players in the secondary, with Javaris Davis, Noah Igbinoghene, Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas all gone.
Not only are there holes on offense and defense, but the loss of starting punter Arryn Sipposs created a hole on special teams.
With a little over a week until the season starts, here are the final projections for the depth chart.
1. Bo Nix
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2. Grant Loy
3. Cord Sandberg
4. Chayil Garnett
This one is pretty cut and dry. Barring an injury or something else unforeseen, rising sophomore Bo Nix will be starting against every team the Tigers play this season. Nix was awarded SEC Freshman of the year after passing for 2,542 yards and 16 passing touchdowns. He added 313 yards on the ground and seven more touchdowns.
Nix had his fair share of struggles on the season while playing away from Jordan-Hare, but improved down the stretch and played some of his best games all year against Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama.
While Nix didn’t have a bad season, Auburn will need him to improve for his sophomore season.
Nix has been named to the watch list for the Manning Award, Davey O'Brien Award and Maxwell Award for the upcoming season.
After transferring to Auburn from Bowling Green, Grant Loy has impressed in fall camp since arriving at Auburn.
In 2019 Loy's passing stats didn't jump off the page, throwing for 1,137 yards with six touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but he was a threat on the ground rushing for 427 yards and four touchdowns.
There seems to be several options to run the wildcat quarterback, and Loy is one of the prime candidates given his rushing ability and size, being listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds.
In limited playing time since arriving at Auburn, former baseball player Cord Sandberg has played well, completing 5-of-7 passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns against Samford, but he won’t compete for the starting job.
Sandberg will likely continue his role as signal-caller in his third year with the program and play in scrap time.
3-star freshman Chayil Garnett will likely be redshirted.
After transferring to Auburn earlier this offseason, Caylin Newton is a potential emergency backup quarterback if everything goes awry for the Tigers. He's officially listed as a wide receiver for Auburn but also could see time at wildcat quarterback with Boobee Whitlow gone.
1. Shaun Shivers
2. D.J. Williams
3. Mark-Antony Richards OR Tank Bigsby
4. Harold Joiner
With Boobee Whitlow entering the transfer portal in February and Malik Miller leaving the program in July, Auburn's once-crowded running back room is a little less crowded.
That doesn't mean there's still not an overload of talented backs for the Tigers this year, though.
When Whitlow was hurt this year, freshman D.J. Williams came in and immediately played a big role, racking up 400 yards and two touchdowns in limited action. His breakout game came against LSU where he had 130 yards on just 13 carries.
Williams felt like the clear-cut starter but dealt with an injury at the beginning of fall camp and may have found himself falling down the depth chart.
While Mark-Antony Richards was the talk at the beginning of camp, recently it's been Shaun Shivers who has received a lot of hype from the coaches and his fellow players.
Shivers probably isn’t an every-down back for the Tigers, but he seems likely to start the season as a starter.
5-star freshman and early enrollee, Tank Bigsby will also be in a position to consistently get carries. Bigsby is Auburn’s highest rated running back since Kerryon Johnson and was described by head coach Gus Malzahn as a “one-play drive type of guy.”
Redshirt freshman Mark-Antony Richards is a guy to really keep your eye on this season. Richards was hurt before the 2019 season and was forced to redshirt, however, he practiced for the Outback Bowl and will be good to go for next year. Coaches have compared Richards to a young Johnson and there’s a good chance he plays a significant amount next year.
Richards is also a strong receiving back, playing well into offensive coordinator Chad Morris' scheme.
Used primarily as a receiving back in 2019, the 6-foot-4 back Harold Joiner will be looking to crack the rotation more next season. There’s also a possibility that with his size Auburn experiments with using him at H-back. Joiner impressed in scrap time, but really has yet to see real snaps at running back.
Recently, Morris noted that they needed to see more consistency out of Joiner.
1. John Samuel Shenker
2. J.J. Pegues OR Luke Deal OR Tyler Fromm OR Brandon Frazier
After losing both Spencer Nigh and Jay Jay Wilson, Auburn will be forced to find someone new to fill the H-back role. While tight ends are rarely used, Morris consistently uses tight ends and will be implementing them more in the offense.
John Samuel Shenker saw limited action last year as a tight end and is most likely to begin the season as the starter.
Both Luke Deal and Tyler Fromm redshirted last season and will get playing time.
Incoming freshman Jeremiah Pegues is someone that could quickly rise up the depth chart and instantly make a big impact. Pegues is listed at 6’2 285 pounds and along with playing tight end, has played some wildcat quarterback.
Along with Pegues, fellow freshmen Brandon Frazier is an intriguing player to watch for on offense.
Frazier is listed at 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, making him instantly a red zone threat.
Wide Receiver - Split End
1. Seth Williams
2. Ze’Vian Capers
3. J.J. Evans
Wide Receiver - Small Slot
1. Anthony Schwartz
2. Kobe Hudson
3. Malcolm Johnson Jr.
Wide Receiver - Big Slot
1. Shedrick Jackson
2. Elijah Canion
Wide Receiver - Flanker
1. Eli Stove
2. Caylin Newton
Auburn saw Will Hastings and Sal Canella graduate along with moving Matthew Hill to defensive back and Zach Farrar enter the transfer portal, even with all of that, The Tigers aren't lacking in talent at wide receiver.
Seth Williams will continue to play the role as the top receiver after a 2019 season that saw him haul in 59 passes for 830 yards and eight touchdowns.
Anthony Schwartz will play a big role in the offense. Schwartz has been a dynamic threat during his first two years at Auburn and nothing will change next season.
Eli Stove will be back for his senior season, coming in as the most experienced at the spot and the third-leading receiver from last year.
Also returning is Shedrick Jackson who’s been tabbed as a potential breakout player by coaches.
Along with all the receivers Auburn brings back, they brought in Ze’Vian Capers, J.J. Evans, Kobe Hudson, Elijah Canion and Malcolm Johnson Jr.
All of whom are expected to play this season. Recently, Capers has been a guy mentioned by Morris and Malzahn as a freshman impressing in fall camp.
As previously mentioned, Newton will be making the transition to wide receiver and should see some snaps this fall.
1. Austin Troxell
2. Alec Jackson
3. Killian Zierer
After J.B. Grimes stepped down, Auburn not only had to replace four starters on the offensive line, but the coach as well. Jack Bicknell Jr. was named the new offensive line coach, and he’ll have a tall task ahead of him.
Austin Troxell has struggled to stay healthy after having three ACL surgeries, the latest coming in the spring of 2019. Had that not occurred, Troxell would’ve been a serious candidate to challenge for playing time this past season.
Troxell played right tackle previously, but will protect Nix’s blindside in 2020.
Battling with Troxell for the starting spot is Alec Jackson, who received starting snaps in Auburn’s last scrimmage.
At the end of the day, Jackson can also play guard and Troxell feels like the more talented player, and the pick to protect Nix.
Behind those two is Killian Zierer who will spend the season rehabbing a knee injury.
1. Brandon Council
2. Keiondre Jones OR Tate Johnson
But with the two tackle positions already filled, grad transfer Brandon Council from Akron has to fill in somewhere, and this feels like the most realistic spot. During his time at Akron, Council had experience at all five positions along the offensive line.
Behind Council will be Keiondre Jones.
Jones is Auburn’s highest-rated guard since Braden Smith and will be fighting for a starting spot at either guard spot.
Tate Johnson was a 3-star recruit in the class of 2020 and will likely redshirt his freshmen season.
1. Nick Brahms
2. Jalil Irvin
3. Avery Jernigan
4. Kamaar Bell
Nick Brahms is the only returning starter on the offensive line and will start next year as the starting center.
Brahms took over for Kaleb Kim in 2019 and played well during his time as a starter.
Behind Brahms is early enrollee Avery Jernigan. Jernigan will get some snaps but will likely redshirt and play sparingly during his freshman season.
1. Tashawn Manning
2. Kameron Stutts
Tashawn Manning started his Auburn career at defensive tackle and doesn’t have much experience, but nonetheless seems to be the starter at right guard this year.
Manning is a little small for a traditional guard, listed at just 6-foot-3, but Manning should be strong enough to make up for that.
Kameron Stutts will be the backup for Manning this season, though, if Manning were to go down, it feels like Jones would be the starter.
1. Brodarious Hamm
2. Brenden Coffey
Brodarious Hamm is the clear-cut starter at right tackle. Hamm played backup to Jack Driscoll last season but was consistently talked about as someone that was impressive in practice.
With Troxell and Hamm, tackle isn’t much of a concern for the Tigers on either side.
Behind Hamm is JUCO transfer Brenden Coffey.
The lack of a spring practice actually came to the benefit of Coffey and Zierer who wouldn't have been on campus anyway and could've slipped on the depth chart, but instead are able to compete at the same time as everyone else.
This year will be used as a year for Coffey to learn and gain weight, listed at just 279 pounds.
1. Derrick Hall
2. T.D. Moultry
3. Caleb Johnson
4. Romello Height
While Hall played some buck and defensive end in his freshman campaign, he’s listed on the Tigers roster at buck so that’s where he’ll be on here.
Hall saw limited action his first year but made good use of it when he did, impressing coaches, fans and fellow players. Hall only had 13 tackles but is quick coming off the edge and was called a future All-American by departing senior Marlon Davidson.
Hall and T.D. Moultry have been competing for the starting spot throughout fall camp. At the end of the day, Hall might get the starting nod but they should both see the field an equal amount.
Romello Height and Caleb Johnson could also get some rotational snaps at buck this season.
1. Tyrone Truesdell
2. Daquan Newkirk
3. Jay Hardy OR Marquis Burks OR Dre Butler
Replacing Derrick Brown and his production and presence on the field will be simply impossible for Auburn.
However, senior Tyrone Truesdell could become a solid starter for the Tigers next year. Truesdell was a rotational guy in 2019 but still managed to record 31 tackles, five for loss and three sacks.
Truesdell is the true veteran of the group but will get help from fellow veteran Daquan Newkirk and newcomers Jay Hardy, Marquis Burks and Dre Butler.
Burks and Butler have JUCO experience and may be ready to help right away while Hardy adjusts to the college game.
1. Big Kat Bryant
2. Colby Wooden
3. Jaren Handy
4. Zykevious Walker
Senior Big Kat Bryant will become the marquee player on Auburn’s defensive line, and they’ll need him to play like it.
Bryant recorded just 16 tackles in 2019 and only had 1.5 sacks. Now numbers don’t tell the full story as Bryant looked good when he was on the field, but he’ll need to put up better stats next season.
Auburn will need him to fill the role of Marlon Davidson who had 48 tackles and 6.5 sacks his senior season.
Auburn players and fans are expecting big things for Bryant, especially after Davidson called him a future All-American just like Hall and Truesdell.
Colby Wooden, who recorded just four tackles last season, might end up being the primary backup to Bryant after a fall camp that’s been impressive, according to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
Jaren Handy and Zykevious Walker both are talented and will see the field this season.
1. K.J. Britt
2. Owen Pappoe
3. Zakoby McClain
4. Wesley Steiner OR Cameron Riley OR Desmond Tisdol
Without a doubt linebacker is the strong suit of Auburn’s defense next season. Auburn returns K.J. Britt, Owen Pappoe and Zakoby McClain who all played major roles during the 2019 season.
Senior linebacker Chandler Wooten announced he will opt out and redshirt the 2020 season.
Auburn not only returns three key players, but brings in 4-stars in Wesley Steiner, Desmond Tisdol and Cameron Riley.
All three incoming freshmen will get the opportunity to play in their freshman year and linebacker is a position Auburn fans won’t have to worry about for awhile.
Steele said recently Tisdol was forced to miss some time this fall camp, making Steiner and Riley the more likely candidates to get playing time to start the year.
Along with the freshmen, O.C. Brothers will be a redshirt freshman and will see playing time this year after only playing against Kent State and Samford his first year.
1. Roger McCreary
2. Nehemiah Pritchett OR Marco Domio
3. Devan Barrett OR Jaylin Simpson OR Matthew Hill
The departures of Javaris Davis and Noah Igbinoghene hurt, but Auburn will still have talented players to fill the cornerback position.
Junior Roger McCreary slowly got more playing time his sophomore season and it paid off as he’ll be the top corner for the Tigers next year. He ended the year with 36 tackles and an interception against LSU.
Behind McCreary is where cornerback gets less clear.
Nehemiah Pritchett is going into his sophomore season with the program after seeing rotational playing time in 2019.
Along with Pritchett, JUCO transfer Marco Domio is an athletic freak at cornerback, making him a strong candidate to see playing time early and often.
Devan Barrett came to Auburn as a highly-touted running back and saw action at wide receiver as well but was moved to corner at the end of fall camp in 2018. With more time at corner under his belt, Barrett can prove valuable to an inexperienced corner group.
Jaylin Simpson played in four games in 2019 and redshirted but can expect to see the field more this season.
Matthew Hill also is expected to play cornerback.
When asked about cornerback, Steele said all five of those players were locked into a “really fun” battle for the starting spot opposite McCreary.
1. Christian Tutt
2. Ladarius Tennison OR Zion Puckett
Christian Tutt has been heavily involved with the defense since he arrived at Auburn and nothing will change for his junior year.
After recording 31 tackles and two interceptions in 2019, he’ll once again be the starting star in 2020.
Behind Tutt was Jordyn Peters, but now he’s expected to move to safety.
Freshman Ladarius Tennison becomes the new backup for Tutt at the nickel spot.
Zion Puckett is now fully healthy and is expected to get some time at nickel.
1. Smoke Monday
2. Jordyn Peters
1. Jamien Sherwood
2. Chris Thompson Jr.
With both Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas graduating, Auburn will have a pretty smooth transition to its new starting safeties.
Both Smoke Monday and Jamien Sherwood have plenty of experience and will make up a solid safety duo.
They'll have 4-star freshmen Chris Thompson Jr. and Jordyn Peters behind them.
1. Anders Carlson
2. Evan McGuire
This one is no surprise. Anders Carlson had a rocky second year as Auburn’s starting kicker but found his groove against Alabama, going 4-of-4 from 43, 43, 44 and 52 yards out. That’s not even counting a made 54-yard field goal that was neutralized by an Alabama penalty.
Evan McGuire is a kicker out of Alabaster, Alabama, and will play second fiddle to Carlson.
1. Oscar Chapman
2. Aidan Marshall OR Marshall Meyers
After Arryn Siposs elected to forgo his senior season and declare for the draft, punter became an immediate hole for Auburn.
Auburn went most of the offseason without a clear plan at punter, then all at once had a competition.
Oscar Chapman, an Australian punter from the same Prokick program as Siposs, took a blue shirt scholarship and joined the team in July.
Just a few weeks later, former walk-on Aidan Marshall rejoined the team after leaving the team in 2018.
The Tigers also have Marshall Meyers from Opelika.
Auburn went all the way down to Australia to get Chapman, so he feels like the starter.
1. Shaun Shivers OR Eli Stove OR Mark-Antony Richards
2. Matthew Hill
While Igbinoghene had a kick return for a touchdown in the Outback Bowl, replacing him as a kick returner shouldn’t be overly difficult for Auburn.
Igbinoghene already split the role with Shivers, so he may continue to play that role. Though, Malzahn said Stove and Richards were also seeing time there.
Hill was the secondary return man for part of Auburn’s 2019 season -- serving as a lead blocker -- and he’ll likely keep that role in 2020.
1. Christian Tutt
2. Mark-Antony Richards
After taking over punt return duties from Ryan Davis, Tutt has had an up-and-down career as the punt returner.
At times he has looked electric and ranked nationally with the fifth-best punt return average in 2019.
At other times he has made sloppy mistakes, including a key muffed punt in the Outback Bowl in 2020.
Barring an unforeseen change, Tutt will remain the starter for 2020. Behind him is unclear, but Richards is an electric running back who can catch the ball, so for now, slot him as the backup.
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