TownNews.com Content Exchange

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a seven-part series breaking down Auburn football’s 2021 roster.

Auburn quarterbacks have completed 435 passes for 5,120 yards over the past two seasons. Wide receivers Seth Williams, Anthony Schwartz and Eli Stove combined to make 282 of those catches (64.8 percent) and total 3,346 of those yards (65.3 percent).

The Tigers’ passing attack is going to be significantly different now that all three of them are gone.

Here’s a look at what we know and don’t know about Auburn’s wide receivers and tight ends:

The lineup

Wide receiver: Shedrick Jackson (Sr.), Caylin Newton (Sr.), Ze’Vian Capers (So.), Kobe Hudson (So.), Ja’Varrius Johnson (So.), Malcolm Johnson Jr. (So.), Elijah Canion (R-Fr.), J.J. Evans (R-Fr.), Tar’Varish Dawson (Fr.)

Tight end: John Samuel Shenker (Sr.), Luke Deal (So.), Brandon Frazier (So.), Tyler Fromm (So.), Landen King (Fr.)

What we know

What we know is that this summer’s captain’s practices and informal throwing sessions set up by players are going to be crucial to building rapport between quarterbacks and pass-catchers.

Bo Nix has a head start over TJ Finley in that respect, but it’s not as if the two-year incumbent starter has much experience throwing to this receiving corps in games. Only half of the 14 players listed above have caught passes in an Auburn uniform. Only Jackson and Shenker have caught passes in multiple seasons.

That group’s career receiving totals: 46 catches, 529 yards, four touchdowns. That’s less production than Williams had by himself last season.

That’s not to say the Tigers can’t be successful returning that little experience, because they can. They returned only 40 catches and 510 receiving yards from wide receivers and tight ends the last time they changed coaches in 2013.

Sammie Coates, Ricardo Louis, Quan Bray, C.J. Uzomah and Trovon Reed combined to catch 113 passes for 1,674 yards for the SEC champions that season.

What we don’t know

What we don’t know yet is which players will take the steps forward that Coates, Louis and Bray once did. But there are some worthy candidates.

Ja’Varrius Johnson was the talk of camp now that he’s healthy — injuries sidelined him for all but one game over his first two seasons on campus. He’s one of four former four-star recruits Auburn has in its pass-catching corps, along with Capers, Hudson, Evans, Frazier and Malcolm Johnson.

Capers was the most productive player in that group during the regular season last year, catching seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. We should start hearing his name a lot more once he’s fully recovered from the foot injury that kept him out of spring practice.

And last but certainly not least is Canion, who was the Tigers' best receiver the last two times they took the field. The 6-foot-4 Florida native appeared in only one regular-season game last season, but he caught three passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in the Citrus Bowl then six for 51 yards and another score on A-Day.

Breakout candidate

Given that Canion has already broken out relative to his teammates, Ja’Varrius Johnson. Coaches raved about his effort and consistency during spring practice, and Bryan Harsin’s offenses have a history of turning smaller, faster slot receivers (Johnson is 5-10) into high-volume producers. If he stays healthy, he could have a big season for the Tigers.

They said it

“We have the guys, but the biggest issue is going to be that we are young and these guys aren’t experienced. There have only been a few guys that have had some real game action. Everybody here knows how it is in this league playing against some of the best competition in the country. The biggest deal for us is going to be putting in the work, the time, the effort, to be extremely detailed, and work to be the best we can possibly be.” — Wide receivers coach Cornelius Williams

This article originally ran on annistonstar.com.

0
0
0
0
0

Locations

TownNews.com Content Exchange
Load comments