As Bryan Harsin continues to put together his staff of assistant coaches and support personnel for the 2021 football season, Auburn’s new leader has immediate needs to address on the recruiting front to have a productive signing day on Feb. 3.
With D.J. Williams and Mark-Anthony Richards leaving the team, the Tigers are down to just two scholarship running backs for Coach Carnell Williams to work with in 2021. The Tigers began the 2020 season with five scholarship backs, but Harold Joiner checked out early when he figured that he was not going to be in the playing rotation.
If the Tigers can find the right guy, it would make sense to get immediate help from a transfer, but with Tank Bigsby coming back as a sophomore it could be challenging to find a top-notch runner who is good enough to be a starter in the SEC to come to Auburn where he would be competing for playing time with the SEC Offensive Freshman of the Year.
Although most of the top running backs already signed with other programs in the early period prior to Christmas, the Tigers might be able to find immediate help from an unsigned high school senior to go with Bigsby and Shaun Shivers if the transfer route doesn’t work out.
With the injury issues and lack of proven depth at the offensive tackle positions, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Tigers focus on getting immediate help in that area as well.
Defensively, the Tigers could use pass-rushing help for 2021. In the 2020 SEC individual sacks statistic, the only Auburn player among the league leaders is Colby Wooden, who averaged 0.4 per contest, which ranked 20th in the league.
If the Tigers could bring in a proven linebacker as a transfer, that would appear to be a major plus for the 2021 defense’s chance for success.
On the Auburn basketball scene, it has been a rough start for the youthful Tigers in SEC games, but the calvary bugle sounded on Saturday when five-star point guard Sharife Cooper was cleared to play after missing the first 11 games due to an eligibility issue.
My early take is that Cooper is the most talented freshman guard at Auburn since Eddie Johnson played for Dr. Bob Davis in the 1970s.
Even with Cooper in the mix, Coach Bruce Pearl’s team is still likely to have a lot of growing pains with such a heavy reliance on young guys. But with Cooper cleared and fellow freshman Justin Powell at the guard spots along with JT Thor at forward and Dylan Cardwell at center, if the Tigers can keep this group and their teammates together into next season, Auburn could have one of the more talented teams in program history for the 2021-22 schedule.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter.