Bryan Harsin’s first spring practice as Auburn’s head football coach was Monday. Monday also began the first real-time Auburn’s newly appointed football staff will get a clean, hard look at their roster.
“First day of spring, we are all excited about that,” Harsin said. “We have a chance to actually get out there and play some 11-on-11. Our coaches have done a good job of getting the expectations of what we want to do each and every day.”
Harsin has been with the team since January, following Auburn’s bowl game. Like offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Derek Mason, his newly appointed staff have trickled in since then and have already started on the next chapter of Auburn football.
In Harsin’s press conference before the first spring practice, he gave credit to a few returning starters for their hard work during the winter training period.
“I think Owen Pappoe's a guy that stood out,” Harsin said. “Zakoby McClain stood out. Bo Nix did a great job. Tank Bigsby, Tashawn Manning. Those are just a few right now. There was more than that. I think a lot of guys improved. I think a lot of guys pushed themselves and developed.”
Bo Nix and the quarterback position have been a topic of fan scrutiny following the conclusion of the 2020 season. His sophomore year, numbers and production did not match that of his freshman year, but Harsin said he has seen solid growth in his quarterback. Nix will be under his third offensive coordinator in as many years, with Bobo taking over for Chad Morris.
“I feel like our quarterbacks have done a good job, coach Bobo has done a good job getting them prepared,” Harsin said.
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Harsin noted that Nix will start spring practice taking the first-team reps, with Grant Loy running with the second team, but that the “pecking order” of the quarterback position is fluid, and no established depth chart has been set yet.
As for players that will be missing practice or the entirety of spring, Harsin listed seven players that will be missing action, notably lineman Brandon Council.
Council was sidelined most of the season due to a listed knee injury, but Harsin said Council will be out on account of a shoulder injury.
“He’ll be out there mentally and focused on what we’re doing. He’ll be learning,” Harsin said. “When he starts to get some more range of motion in that shoulder and be able to do things, to start doing it on his own and be ready for summer and get a lot of that work in in the summertime.”
Wide receivers Shedrick Jackson and Ze’Vian Capers are both listed as out. Capers is still recovering from surgery on a foot injury suffered in the Citrus Bowl.
Defensive backs Marco Domio and Zion Pucket will also be missing time due to injuries and were described as “limited.”
Ahmari Harvey, a four-star safety from Tallahassee, Florida, enrolled early but is also limited. Linebacker Desmond Tisdol will be limited as well.
For those that will be practicing in the 15 spring practices, Harsin said he simply wants to remain injury-free and to implement the all-new systems across all three phases of the program.
“We'll see what that looks like as we get into practicing," Harsin said. "But if there's any indication from how we worked out and how we trained and tested, we should see guys get out there and take that same mentality into the practices and get better."
Auburn was unable to have spring practices last season on account of COVID-19 restrictions. But for Harsin and his team this year, they will be taking it day by day, trying to improve everywhere the team can.
“I think spring practices are the most vital practices you can have,” Harsin said.
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