New Leaders Emerging for the Tigers
Spring is a time of year when mother-nature likes to hit the reset button. It represents a renewed spirit in many aspects of life and a chance to start over. That concept has definitely held true for Auburn during their spring camp. Players have slowly started separating themselves into those that are ‘All In’ and those that are falling behind.
Trent Fisher has received a lot of praise this spring from coaches. He’s described as a fiery competitor with an excellent understanding of the game and his position. It has been alluded to by some that perhaps Fisher’s increased reps this spring have been a tool to “send a message” to others, but those conjectures may be premature. I’ll take passionate, heads-up play any day of the week over entitlement.
Another defensive player that is really turning heads is Junior safety, Justin Garrett. Ellis Johnson has identified him as a strong leader and someone the Tigers’ defense will heavily depend on in 2013. Garrett has not had much notable playing time up to this point in his Auburn career, but he has emerged as an integral asset to the defense going forward. Justin Garrett is the perfect example of the kind of players that will need to step up this season. Chizik’s staff was not big into mixing up playing rotations very often. There are a lot of guys who might feel like they’ve got something to prove, not just to the SEC, but their teammates as well.
On the other side of the ball, there’s wide receiver Melvin Ray. Ray is returning to football after an unsuccessful professional baseball career. He has been outspoken this spring about how excited he is to get the opportunity to play football again. Originally a 4-star recruit, Ray’s maturity and work ethic could lead to big things for him on The Plains. Joining Ray, the offense has also seen Jaylon Denson (WR) and Cameron Artis-Payne (RB) emerge and become surprise contributors. Another encouraging sign is that C.J. Uzomah finally looks like he’s put himself in position to become the dynamic playmaker Auburn needs him to be.
For Malzahn, seeds are beginning to take root. Slowly but surely, things are beginning to resemble a much more unified group than has been present the previous two seasons. With new faces emerging in seemingly all the right places, Malzahn could possibly enjoy the fruits of his labor sooner rather than later.