July 29, 2013
Jeff Whitaker is back to be a stopper in Auburn's defensive line (Anthony Hall photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- The time is now for the veteran tackles in Auburn's defensive line.
"We're going to be aggressive," promises Gabe Wright.
Auburn returns some familiar faces to defensive tackle for the start of fall practice Friday. But a junior college transfer and a 5-star hopeful could shake up the depth chart. Certainly, Wright and Jeff Whitaker bring a lot of experience, specifically 27 career starts and 75 tackles.
A fresh start for the veterans and a new coaching staff may help leave behind a difficult 2012 season.
"We definitely didn't accomplish what we would have liked," Wright said.
New defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson won't be satisfied with just run-stoppers in the middle. He'll also stress pressure on the quarterback.
"I'm excited about every one of them. I have a good nucleus of young men," says defensive line coach Rodney Garner.
The candidates in random order:
Jeff Whitaker (6-4, 310, Sr.) He has 44 career tackles, but had only 12 last year after injuries cost him three games as well as other playing time. The communications major is often the face of the defense with the media. Likely one of the two starting tackles after spring.
Gabe Wright (6-3, 296, Jr.) Started the last five games last season and came out of the spring holding one of the two starting spots at tackle. He had 19 tackles last year. Of note for Ellis, a quarter of Wright's career tackles have been for a loss.
Ben Bradley (6-1, 295, So.) Junior college transfer who arrived in January and has three years of eligibility remaining. Had 43 tackles for Hutchinson Community College in Kansas last year. Had 93 tackles as a high school senior in Norcross, Ga.
Angelo Blackson (6-4, 310, Jr.) Has come a long way, from Bear, Del., to battle for a starting spot in 2013. He has 10 career starts. Has 32 career tackles, including 26 last season. Six of those tackles were for a loss.
JaBrian Niles (6-2, 293, So.) Played in four games last season after redshirting in 2011.
Montravius Adams (6-4, 306, Fr.) A 5-star signee from Dooly County High in Vienna, Ga., where he had 127 tackles, of which 34 were for a loss, his senior year.
Charles Goldberg writes for AuburnTIgers.com. Follow him on Twitter: