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The Offense


This is an area of real intrigue for the Auburn staff, as transfer Zach Calzada joins TJ Finley and Robby Ashford as a potential starter against Mercer. Recent developments likely point to Calzada getting the nod. If so, the Tigers get a signal caller who showed flashes of greatness for Texas A&M, especially when it counted..

Running Back

It’s obviously the Tank Bigsby show coming into 2022, as one of the league’s leading ball carriers returns. The Tigers will get help from sophomore Jarquez Hunter, who is capable, and from freshman Damari Alston if he is ready to contribute. We can’t afford many injuries here, as the running back stable is filled with mostly young talent.

Offensive Line

Auburn boasts one of the nation’s most experienced offensive lines coming into 2022, but still needs to take a real step forward.

Kilian Zierer is expected to take the left tackle spot, with Brandon Council at left guard, Nick Brahms at center, Keiondre Jones at right guard, and Austin Troxell manning the right tackle spot. Should the chips fall this way, the offensive line will be as experienced as any in the nation. As with running backs, this is a group that can ill afford injuries.

Tight End

An area of real strength for Auburn, John Samuel Shenker leads a solid bunch for the Tigers. Luke Deal, Landen King, and Micah Riley-Ducker should all find ways to make their presence known.

Look for Shenker to play a leading role as Auburn relies on a new signal caller looking for reliable options.

Wide Receiver

There is no doubt this is the biggest area of concern for the Auburn offense. However, with receivers coach Ike Hilliard on staff, there is reason for hope. Players like Ja’Varrius Johnson, Shedrick Jackson, and Malcolm Johnson should have ample opportunity to carve out their roles as go-to receivers.

This is a real area to watch as the season progresses.

The Defense

Defensive Line

The Tiger defense did a great job last season of pressuring quarterbacks and that shouldn’t change in 2022. Derrick Hall and Eku Leota are both legitimate ball-hawks with Colby Wooden arguably the most polished of the bunch. Marcus Harris and Marquis Burks only add to that threat, as both are stalwarts on the front line.

This could be a real area of strength for the Tigers.


Owen Pappoe will need to step up in a real way if the linebacking group hopes to hold its own against SEC offenses. Players like Cam Riley, Wesley Steiner, and Eugene Asante will need to rise to the occasion alongside Pappoe as the season wears on. Simply put, this is a position of little depth beyond the starting group. Steering clear of injuries will be vitally important.


The cornerback position holds considerable promise heading into 2022, with Jaylin Simpson, Nehemiah Pricthett, DJ James, and Keionte Scott headlining a group with real potential.

Newcomers are sure to have opportunities to make their case for playing time as the season progresses, but this core group is a strong one to build on.


The departure of Smoke Monday will hurt, but the cupboard certainly isn’t bare with Iowa State transfer Craig McDonald in the wings and JUCO transfer Marquis Gilbert on campus. Expect others such as Zion Puckett, Donovan Kaufman, and Cayden Bridges to make strong cases for playing time.