Skip to main content Skip to footer
The race is on at running back at Auburn
March 14, 2015

PeytonBarber
Auburn's Peyton Barber found some room to run last year against Louisiana Tech

By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com

Somebody needs to replace the SEC's leading rusher at Auburn. You know, again.

Tre Mason rushed for 1,816 yards two seasons ago, and Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for 1,608 yards last year. Who's next in line? Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says he doesn't know, but adds he'll accept one, two or three to fill the void.

Your spring-practice candidates: Peyton Barber, Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson.

Barber is in his third year after redshirting his freshman season. Thomas is a sophomore. Robinson is a junior college transfer. They've combined for 216 Auburn yards. The hidden factor:Protecting the quarterback.

"We're rotating those three," Lashlee said after Saturday's practice, the third of the spring. "Typically, Roc and Peyton have been starting, just because they've been more comfortable in everything, but it's been even reps."

Auburn has been flexible and patient finding a go-to running back in the last few years.

"Tre, four or five games in it, was pretty balanced. Last year, we kind of had an idea, but Cameron kind of took it and ran with it," Lashlee said.

"We traditionally have that one guy, but if we had three guys that all had 700 or 800 yards, it's just as good as one guy having 1,800 yards or maybe better because they are fresher. I think it's a position where we have three really talented guys. The biggest thing is they just don't have the experience. So spring and fall camp is huge for them. We'll just see how it goes."
The race is on.
"That's something that'll be interesting to see all spring," Lashlee said.

The next step is to find who can multi-task. "How are they going to hold onto the ball? How are they running? Making guys miss, protections, that's what really matters, and so today was probably the first good evaluation of them."

Some of Lashlee's observations:

"Roc has had a great offseason. He's been really consistent. He's in great shape. He's gained 10 or 12 pounds. I think he's motivated. I think now he appreciates what he learned from getting to watch Cameron and Corey (Grant), how they prepared, how older guys approach everything, not just on the field. I think he's in a good position to really compete and move on."

Thomas weighs in about 200 pounds now.

"He was at 190, which isn't a bad weight, but he's put 10 pounds on or so, and it's good, lean mass, and he looks as quick and as fast, if not faster," Lashlee said. "As long as he doesn't lose his quickness and speed, then obviously that'll help him, because in our league, he's going to take more hits, probably this year than he did last year."

Barber, said Lashlee, has had a "very positive" first three days of practice.

"Peyton is a talented runner, we know that. Peyton has now gotten it to where he's very comfortable and can be a full every-down back; pass protection and all the things that come with it.

"I think his first three days he's shown great strides. You can just tell when a kid is all of the sudden comfortable. He's playing and reacting and not thinking as much, that's what I've noticed in the first three days. Hopefully, that's the way it will continue."

Robinson, said Lashlee, "just got here" though he enrolled early enough to go throw bowl practices.

Lashlee said Robinson "had some really good runs" Saturday.

"When he's just grabbing the ball and playing, he's doing well. It's just going to take time as far as the way we practice, the protections to knowing all the plays and where to line up, because we go faster than he's ever gone before. So in that regard, he's got a ways to go. But physically, he's ready to go and he'll have an opportunity because when he's just running and playing, he's pretty talented."

Barber, said Lashlee, has had a "very positive" first three days of practice.

"Peyton is a talented runner, we know that. Peyton has now gotten it to where he's very comfortable and can be a full every-down back; pass protection and all the things that come with it.

"I think his first three days he's shown great strides. You can just tell when a kid is all of the sudden comfortable. He's playing and reacting and not thinking as much, that's what I've noticed in the first three days. Hopefully, that's the way it will continue."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

 

 

Buy Tickets

BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE!

Aubtix.com is your home for buying tickets to Auburn athletic events.

ONLINE STORE
Auburn Tigers
Official Store

GET AUBURN GEAR NOW!

Shop for your favorite items at the Auburn Tigers Official Online Store.

Tigers Unlimited, Join Today! Click for more information