One of the hardest hit positions by the transfer portal for the Tigers was along the defensive line.
After Auburn went 6-7 in the 2021 season, the Tigers saw eight defensive linemen enter the transfer portal. While that number has been knocked down to seven, after defensive tackle Marquis Robinson withdrew his name in April, defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh still finds his position group with very few experienced players and a lot of work to be done in the offseason.
Despite Auburn’s disappointing 2021 campaign, the Tigers still managed to rack up 36 sacks, the most in a single season since 2018. Derick Hall led the way with nine sacks and Eku Leota followed close behind with seven. Although depth may be a concern on the line, the Tigers have a decent foundation to build upon with those two standouts returning.
While Brumbaugh was lucky to have key players like Hall, Leota, Colby Wooden and Marcus Harris return, the Tigers still needed to pick up a few players, preferably with some game experience, in the transfer portal.
Auburn first picked up top JUCO transfer Jeffrey M’ba in mid-December. The 6-foot-6, 313-pound defensive lineman was ranked the No. 1 junior college player in the country, recording 50 tackles and 15 tackles for loss in his two seasons at Independence Community College. He is big and tough on the line and has the potential to make an early impact for the Tigers. M’ba missed all of spring training due to a lingering shoulder injury.
The Tigers also picked up Oregon transfer Jayson Jones, who recorded 19 tackles and two sacks in the 13 games with the Ducks last season. Jones brings in some experience but only one year of it as he did not see action in his 2020 season.
Brumbaugh added some much-needed experience to the roster in late May when Memphis transfer Morris Joseph transferred to the Tigers. Joseph, a 6-foot-2, 275-pounder, spent his last three seasons in Memphis appearing in 33 games and recording 118 tackles, 19 of which happened behind the line of scrimmage, with 11 of them being sacks. Joseph has one season of eligibility remaining and will be looking to make an immediate impact for the Tigers on the line.
The off-season has already provided a chance for Auburn to rebuild the defensive line and while they have added a few good candidates, Tiger fans should not be surprised if Brumbaugh and Harsin continue to pursue transfers up until the start of the season.