One position that is poised to get a boost as the Bryan Harsin era begins on the Plains is at tight end. Under former coach Gus Malzahn, the tight end position was rarely featured but a study of the Harsin offense shows that fate may be taking a positive turn for the linemen-receiver hybrids.
The Tigers won’t lose any tight ends from last season, and while there are plenty of names on the depth chart where there is little collegiate experience to go around.
Flynn Driscoll and Hayden Brice are two returners who have not seen the field as Tigers. Brice, though, has played recently. His first two years of college were spent at Northeast Mississippi State Community College, where he had 19 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown. After transferring to Auburn, Brice served in a reserve role last season.
Also returning to the Plains in 2021 are tight ends Tyler Fromm, Luke Deal and Brandon Frazier.
Fromm, brother to former Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, has recorded no statistics but was on the field when Auburn took on LSU this past season. Deal and Frazier each saw action in 2020 and both recorded two catches each. Deal’s two catches amounted to 11 yards and Frazier’s went for 13.
The two tight ends with the most experience are senior John Samuel Shenker and sophomore J.J. Pegues.
Shenker has played a role in the offense in all of his years as a Tiger, racking up 15 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Pegues came on the scene as a freshman and quickly became a fan favorite for his athletic runs and bone-crushing blocks.
At 6’2, 300 pounds, Pegues has both the physical and athletic capabilities to be a centerpiece of the Auburn offense. Last season, Pegues had seven catches for 57 yards while also rushing several times and completing a pass. A jack-of-all-trades, he will certainly be incorporated into the offense somehow under Harsin.
The Tigers added one tight end into the mix from the class of 2021. Landen King is a three-star recruit out of Beaumont, Texas. King had 39 catches for 471 yards and five touchdowns as a senior and will look to add even more talent and depth to the tight end locker room.
The Tigers were expecting to add major experience to the position with former Oklahoma tight end Grant Calcaterra, but he ultimately decided to continue his career elsewhere after Malzahn's departure.
There are plenty of tight ends to go around, but with Harsin at the reins there are now more opportunities to go around as well. Pegues is athletic enough to demand playing time and he will certainly see the field, but spring practice will be a great opportunity for the other tight ends to step up and prove that they have the ability to contribute even if they haven't had the on-field playing time they want.
A-Day will be held at Jordan-Hare Stadium on April 17.