AU FB Practice

Ja'Varrius Johnson is one of the Tigers' most-experienced receivers on roster

Just four games into the 2021 season, Auburn parted ways with wide receiver coach Cornelius Williams and saw attrition at the position after the season. Auburn is now trying  to rebuild the position with a new coach and a strategic use of the transfer portal. 

 

What Auburn Picked Up

For Auburn, the first priority heading into spring training was a new wide receiver coach and on Feb. 22, the Tigers announced Ike Hilliard of The Pittsburgh Steelers would be headed down to the Plains. Hilliard has been a wide receiver coach in the NFL since 2011 and has worked with several teams in his career. In his two seasons with the Steelers, Hilliard played a part in the development of multiple big-name receivers like Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. 

In the coaching position, Auburn emphasized experience with their selection of a coach, which makes sense as it is something they lack in their wide receiver player pool. 

In early May, the Tigers added Miami transfer Dazalin Worsham to the roster. Worsham was a former three-star recruit, and through his two seasons with the Miami Hurricanes he played in just one game and did not record any stats. Worsham adds depth to the pool of receivers, but will most likely be used only in rotational play. 

Possibly the biggest recruit Auburn landed in the off-season and most certainly the best wide receiver pickup happened this past Saturday, when LSU transfer Koy Moore announced his commitment to Auburn. 

Garnering 254 receiving yards on 27 catches in his two years in Baton Rouge, Moore could emerge as a weapon for Auburn offense next year with his breakaway speed. 

He also joins the short list of Auburn receivers with SEC playing experience and even played with Auburn quarterback T.J. Finley at LSU for one season. The chemistry between these two could help give Moore a push toward a starting spot if Finley is selected as the starter.  

 

What Auburn Already had

 

Senior Shedrick Jackson is the most experienced player for Auburn at wide receiver, with 17 career starts, putting up 527 yards in 40 receptions in the 2021 season. 

Junior Ja’varrius Johnson is the other veteran receiver the Tigers have to work with. Johnson had nine receptions for 274 yards in the 2021, and he also sat deep for multiple punt returns. 

After Jackson and Johnson, redshirt freshman Tar’varish Dawson Jr. and junior Malcolm Johnson Jr. are next in line. 

Dawson is a fast, mobile option for the Tigers who showed his abilities in his senior year in high school, where he played both sides of the ball for the Lehigh Lightning and had 28 receptions for 690 yards with nine touchdown catches and 290 rushing yards with six touchdown runs. Malcolm Johnson has not seen much game action in his three years but did record a 49-yard touchdown reception from T.J. Finley vs. Alabama State last season.

Behind these receivers, the only other two possible players Auburn fans could expect to maybe see are Junior Ze’Vian Capers and Sophomore J.J. Evans. 

As a true freshman, Capers started in the opener vs Kentucky, snagged three catches at South Carolina, completed a two-point conversion at Mississippi St., and had a 9-yard touchdown catch from Bo Nix vs. LSU. In his sophomore season, he saw the field in the Akron, Georgia State and Ole Miss games. Capers's biggest advantage is his size as he stands at 6'4" making him the tallest receiver in the pool. 

Evans has yet to see game action but was a skillful speedy receiver at Montevallo High School. 

The Tigers still need to add talent and depth to the roster a wide receiver, surely a point of emphasis for both Hilliard and second-year coach Bryan Harsin.

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