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Auburn begins spring practice 'in a great spot'
Feb. 28, 2017

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - New players. New positions. New assistant coaches.

Auburn started spring practice Tuesday, Gus Malzahn's fifth season as head coach, with the Tigers "in a great spot."

"We've got some leaders stepping up," Malzahn said. "I know they're excited to be out there with our coaches."

A Day

Malzahn welcomed three new coaches to his staff since last season: offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, tight ends/H-backs coach Larry Porter and secondary coach Greg Brown.

"He's a quarterback developer," Malzahn said of Lindsey. "Our goal is to be more balanced. We'll work very hard in the spring to do that. We've had one of the better running games in our league. Obviously we want to keep our strengths."

Transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who started as a freshman at Baylor in 2015, practiced with Auburn for the first time.

"Chip's going to throw him in there," Malzahn said. "He's going to throw all five (quarterbacks) in there."

Malzahn said Lindsey will evaluate Auburn's quarterbacks at "an accelerated pace," to narrow the field to a smaller number of contenders for the starting position.

"He wants to give everybody a chance to compete, to win jobs." Malzahn said.

Quarterback Sean While, recovering from a broken arm, will observe during spring practice but won't participate on the field.

"We have a lot of information about him," Malzahn said. "He's a veteran guy. We're going to make sure he's healthy before we get rolling."

Offensive lineman Braden Smith will practice at right tackle, after starting Auburn's past 27 games at guard.

"He's one of the best linemen in our league," Malzahn said. "How versatile he is will help our team, and it will also help him at the next level, too."

Malzahn identified Tray Matthews, Chandler Cox and Daniel Carlson as leaders on the 2017 team.

"That's unusual for a kicker to be a team leader," Malzahn said. "But he's not your average kicker and I think everybody in this room already knows that."

Malzahn outlined Auburn's three goals for spring practice: 1) for the players to have a great understanding of the base offense and defense 2) identify strengths in offense, defense and special teams 3) each player to improve.

Malzahn updated the status of several players, saying graduating seniors Deon Mix and Cameron Toney will consider joining other programs as graduate transfers.

Darius Slayton, after hernia surgery, will return to practice after spring break. Fellow receiver Kyle Davis is also expected to return after spring break after taking care of personal business.

Linebacker K.J. Britt will miss spring practice after a leg procedure.

Cancer survivors Brodarious Hamm and Tashawn Manning have both been cleared for spring practice.

"I'm excited to get both of those guys out there," Malzahn said. "They will be limited. We'll see how things go."

Markell Boston and Stephen Davis Jr. are no longer part of the Auburn's program, Malzahn said.

Auburn's A-Day game is April 8 at 1 p.m.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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