End of Week Ramblings From the Plains
Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports
Is he going or is he staying?
This is the time of year for colleges to poach from other schools coaching staffs. After Auburn successfully staved off a threat by Arkansas to hire away head Coach Gus Malzahn, the Tigers are in jeopardy of losing defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. He’s a serious contender for the head coaching job at Tennessee.
In Auburn’s favor is the fact Steele loves being at Auburn, but he is a Tennessee graduate and the big million-dollar contracts of today’s coaching market may be too tempting to turn down. No word yet whether the Broyles Award finalist will stay or go.
Update: Auburn fans can breathe a sigh of relief as Tennessee announced the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt today.
An energized bowl opponent.
Tickets for the 50th Peach Bowl went on sale Monday, and the UCF fanbase set a record when they bought up the school’s entire allotment in less than 24 hours. The fans are excited to be playing on the big stage and look to make a big splash against SEC West Champion Auburn.
Although Scott Frost was hired by Nebraska Saturday, he plans to coach in the Peach Bowl. At 12–0, UCF is the nation’s only undefeated team yet was left out of the Top 10. The Knights feel like they have a lot to prove, and their high scoring offense will be a challenge for the Tigers.
End of year awards.
Kerryon Johnson was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. The running back led the conference with 1,320 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns and tied Cam Newton‘s record at Auburn for the most rushing touchdowns (15) in SEC games. He was the fourth Auburn player to win the SEC’s top offensive player award. Previous winners were Newton, Tre Mason in 2013, and Jason Campbell in 2004.
Daniel Carlson was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year for the second straight year. He is the league’s all-time leading scorer with 471 career points. It will be an injustice if he doesn’t win the Lou Groza Award this year as the nation’s best kicker.
Braden Smith won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is given to the SEC’s best blocker. The offensive lineman started all 13 games this season and earned a grade of 88.7 from Pro Football Focus. You can bet the senior will have a career in the NFL.
Finally Auburn and Bama tied for the league lead in placing five players on the First Team All-SEC list. The Tigers tied with LSU with seven overall selections on the first- and second-team units.
Defensive end/Buck Jeff Holland, cornerback Carlton Davis, kicker Daniel Carlson, offensive tackle Braden Smith, and running back Kerryon Johnson earned first-team honors. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham and linebacker Tré Williams were named to the second team.
Carlson, Smith, and Davis were also named to the Walter Camp All-American Teams making Auburn Football the only SEC team to have three players named!
And finally, Coach Steele has been named the 2017 Football Scoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year.
Head coach Bruce Pearl said he’s “staying hopeful” that Daniel Purifoy and Austin Wiley will be able to play this year. With a 7–1 record, the team hasn’t needed them thus far, but that will change when the Tigers begin SEC play January 2nd.
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Congratulations are due for Auburn’s Tim Hudson. The former baseball Tiger will be inducted into the 50th Anniversary Class of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame this spring. The All-Star pitcher had a 17-year major league career and was a two time All American at Auburn. He was the 1997 SEC Player of the Year and an All-American in 1997 at two positions (pitcher and outfielder). He batted .396 with 18 home runs that year, and his 165 strikeouts were the best in the NCAA.
You’ve got to be proud for the Phenix City native. No one wanted him when he came out of high school, so he went on to play junior college ball and became a star at Chattahoochee Community College, Auburn, and the pros. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Until next time …