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Monday, Oct 2, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Newcomers shining during fall camp

Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin speaks to the media during the 2021 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days on July 22,2021 at the Wynfrey Hotel,Hoover,Alabama. (Jimmie Mitchell/SEC)
Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin speaks to the media during the 2021 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days on July 22,2021 at the Wynfrey Hotel,Hoover,Alabama. (Jimmie Mitchell/SEC)

Auburn held a scrimmage Saturday night, and according to head coach Bryan Harsin, some of the newcomers impressed during the live action.

Firstly, Harsin mentioned that despite some of the nerves of playing in Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time, true freshman running back Damari Alston and fellow freshman Camden Brown had great showings.

“We had a couple of freshmen that stood out,” Harsin said. “Alston stood out. I thought he ran the ball really well, and then Camden Brown had a touchdown tonight, so those were two freshmen that I thought played well.”

Brown, who did not enroll early at Auburn, has earned praise throughout fall. In a receiving room that lost two of its three leading receivers from the 2021 season, Brown is working hard to earn a major role for the Tigers in 2022.

The Florida native was originally a Pittsburgh commit, but after decommitting from the Panthers in early December, Brown signed with Auburn on early national signing day. The three-star prospect could prove to be Auburn’s most underrated signee if his momentum rolls into the regular season.

As for Alston, he will try to establish a role behind All-SEC running back Tank Bigbsy and Jarquez Hunter who ran for 593 yards last season. Though it seems like a tall task as the third option at the position, former Auburn running back Shaun Shivers did it in 2021, especially in the receiving game.

With the hype from players and coaches overflowing for Alston, the Georgia native should carve out a role this season, especially in the first few games.

Auburn saw seven defensive linemen or EDGE defenders enter the portal over the offseason, leading to a depth concern among the line of scrimmage. Noticing the issue, Harsin and his staff attacked the portal and junior college to fill those needs.

With a couple of physical monsters like Jayson Jones from Oregon who is 6-foot-6, 238 pounds and Jeffrey M’Ba at 6-foot-6, 318 pounds from JUCO, Auburn feels good about its depth.

Auburn also added Morris Joseph Jr., who is the most proven among the newcomers on the defensive line after playing three seasons at Memphis.

“Jayson Jones looks good out there,” Harsin said. “Jeffrey M’Ba is coming along. Morris, I think he’s done a really good job, and Morris can play. He’s not the biggest guy out there on the field, but he does understand the game, understands leverage. He’s got some suddenness to him where he can really move and do some things, change of direction, which is really helpful.”

Auburn also added an important body at EDGE when Marcus Bragg committed to Auburn. Harsin made sure to mention his importance as well after the scrimmage.

“Marcus Bragg is getting more and more opportunities on the edge, doing some things for us on special teams,” Harsin said. “So all those guy are contributing somehow, someway right now. It’s just going to take a little bit more time for them.”

In the secondary, newcomers Keionte Scott and Craig McDonald have garnered the most attention from coaches.

Scott arrived from JUCO even later than even those who did not enroll early as he was not with the team during summer workouts, but that has not stopped him from making plays - including an interception in one of the practices earlier in fall camp according to the players.

“Keionte Scott just got here, and he’s not a transfer, but that guy can play,” Harsin said. "He’s kind of catching up, but he’s got a lot of natural ability, and you can see that he’s going to be a guy for us.”

Harsin mentioned that the scrimmage finished with a long scoop-and-score by McDonald, the Iowa State safety transfer. McDonald started three games for the Cyclones in 2021 as a redshirt freshman, and the tall defensive back is battling for a starting spot in the secondary.

“At the end of it, we did a little goal line period, and there was a fumble and Craig McDonald picked it up and ran for about 95 yards, so it was a great play,” Harsin said. “It was good for the defense, good energy.”

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With only 20 days until the regular season starts for Auburn, positional battles and depth charts still need to be finalized, but the newcomers will certainly play a major role in Auburn’s season. The Tigers open the season against Mercer on Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. CST.

Jacob Waters | Sports Reporter

Jacob is a sophomore from Leeds, Alabama. This is his second year with The Auburn Plainsman. 

Twitter: @JacobWaters_

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