March 22, 2014
Cassanova McKinzy put the stop Tennessee's Josh Dobbs last season (Todd Van Emst photo)
Junior linebackers Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy have switched positions for most of Auburn’s first three spring practices.
Last season, McKinzy was the starter at weakside linebacker and Frost split time with senior Jake Holland at middle linebacker. According to Frost, McKinzy has worked exclusively at Will this spring. Frost has worked at both, but has spent more time at Will.
"It’s not that much of a transition," Frost said after Saturday’s practice, the first in full pads. "It’s a lot of the same drops, just some variations. It’s pretty much the same concept, same defense."
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, who coaches the linebackers, told Frost and McKinzy his plans before the start of spring.
"He said we have different traits," Frost said. "Cass and I discussed that. We both know that. We’re adjusting will to it. Cass is doing a good job with all the calls and everything."
Frost said redshirt freshman Cameron Toney is running No. 2 at Will and junior Kenny Flowers at Mike.
Movement at defensive end, too
Carl Lawson is a left side defensive end. There's been some movement around him. Lawson says Montravius Adams has been behind him during the early spring practices.
"Mont is a freaky athlete. So he’s another one of the guys that can play end or tackle,' Lawson said.
Lawson said Gabe Wright and Gimel President are at right defensive end.
Dismukes enjoys first day in full pads
Senior center Reese Dismukes said "it was fun" for the Auburn offensive line to put on full pads.
"We kind of do contact without pads anyway," Dismukes said. "Obviously, when we put pads on, it goes up a notch. I think we are way ahead of where we were last year at this point."
Veterans work together on the offensive line
With four starters back from last season’s Southeastern Conference champions, Auburn’s offensive linemen are accustomed to working together. Junior Pat Miller, who started the first three games of last season at right tackle, and sophomore Shon Coleman are competing to replace Greg Robinson at left tackle.
"It’s going well," Dismukes said. "It’s good having so many guys back, especially that started last year. I think that has been key to us as far as chemistry goes. We’ve been able to go out there and know what’s going on and really work on perfecting techniques and getting better."
Dismukes said both Coleman and Miller are practicing well.
"Both of them have done a great job so far, just coming to work," Dismukes said. "I doubt that position will be filled this spring. I imagine they will just let them battle it out and keep going into the fall."
Deon Mix weighs in
Deon Mix checked in on the recruiting boards at 6-foot-4, 315 when he signed with Auburn in 2013. He weighed 310 last fall. The redshirt freshman started spring practice at 298.
Gus Malzahn credited strength coach Ryan Russell for the transformation.
"Coach Russell's done a great job with him, and he's done a great job with his body," Malzahn said. "He's going to get a chance to play some guard, play some center. He's a smart guy, and he cares. It's important to him."
Separately, Malzahn said safety Trent Fisher has left the program. "That was after the season," Malzahn said.
Jonathan Jones is back
Defensive back Jonathan Jones blew out a hamstring on a kickoff that Florida State returned for a touchdown in the BCS title game. The hamstring pain is gone, but the frustration lingered.
"It was difficult, but, it was a learning curve and it helped me get better as a person."
Jones said he's healthy enough now to be a contender to return kicks.