With Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton both now in the NFL, Auburn will have a tall task in replacing their top two wideouts from last year.
At the top of the list to become the Tigers' next number one wideout is sophomore Seth Williams.
The 6-foot-3, 224-pound receiver burst onto the scene as a true freshman last year with 26 catches for 534 yards and five touchdowns.
After leading the SEC in yards per catch last year (20.5), there is certainly a lot of hype surrounding the athletic playmaker. At the same time, Williams is only a sophomore and, according to wide receiver coach Kodi Burns, still needs to improve on a few things.
“Just maturity and learning the position. I think when Seth got here, when I recruited Seth, I knew he was a heck of an athlete. I watched him on the basketball court, could dunk a basketball every which way but very raw, not really coached up as far as a receiver,” Burns said.
“So, it’s been awesome to kind of watch his development over the last year because I mean, to be honest, when he got here as a freshman, really just developed him as far as teaching him the offense and the plays — to go out there and make plays. But now, it’s more so you’re going to become a true, pure route-runner and that’s what we’re looking for where he can run every single route and route tree, which I think he’s at in this point in his career, and to really become a guy for us and I think he’s at that point.”
With lightning quick wideout Anthony Schwartz likely to miss the season-opener against Oregon with a hand injury, Burns has been searching for the next guys to step in and up and make an impact.
Both redshirt senior Will Hastings and redshirt junior Eli Stove are key playmakers returning for the Tigers after serious injuries derailed both of their 2018 seasons. Hastings and Stove were limited in fall camp due to soreness stemming from ACL injuries. They're expected to see their participation grow now that Bo Nix has been named the starting quarterback and the Tigers begin prepping for the Ducks.
Adding further depth, Burns mentioned redshirt freshman Matthew Hill, veteran Sal Cannella, freshman Ja’Varrius Johnson and a few others as receivers who have the chance to make an impact as the team gets healthy.
“We’re at a point right now where we’re developing some really good depth. I think these guys are getting some valuable minutes, the Marquis McClain’s of the world, Sal Cannella, Zach Farrar, Matthew Hill so on and so forth,” Burns said.
The second-team receivers were generally panned for their inconsistent play during fall camp, as Hastings, Stove, Schwartz and Williams sat out. Williams missed a handful of practices due to a sore back. Once all four are back at full speed, the production at receiver should greatly improve.
"I’m excited. I think we have a chance to be as good as we’ve been. Once we get a little bit of the nicks and bruises, everybody back at full strength, I think we have a chance to be pretty special. We have some guys that are proven in this league.”