Auburn counting on big-play Melvin Ray this season
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Rhett Lashlee says he's confident in his receivers this season.
"We've got some really good options," says Auburn's offensive coordinator.
There's Melvin Ray and Ricardo Louis and Marcus Davis. There is speedy junior college transfer Jason Smith,and Myron Burton and Tony Stevens. There are some young guys. And there's Duke Williams, who missed Friday's practice because for what Lashlee called "personal business."
“It’s kind of a day-to-day deal," Lashlee said after Friday's practice, the fourth of the preseason.
Auburn is looking for receivers to step up to help replace Sammie Coates, who left for the NFL.
Coates led Auburn in receiving yards last year with 741. Williams had 45 catches for 730 yards. The departed Quan Bray was second in catches with 39.
The departure of Coates and Bray should open more opportunities for the likes of Louis, who had 21 catches for 261 yards; Davis, who had 13 catches for 92 yards and Ray, who had eight catches for 182 yards for a dazzling 22.8 yards per catch.
"Melvin is probably as steady a guy as we've had in the first two years," Lashlee said. "He's not flashy, but every time you watch film, he's always doing right. He's doing exactly what he's coached to do, he's doing it exactly how we ask him to do it, making plays when they need to be made.
"Marcus Davis, same thing. All he ever does when he's in is make big plays in big moments. His role I would think will elevate this year.
"You look at Ricardo. Ricardo has loads of talent. He's made a lot of plays in the last two years, it's can he do it at a consistent rate. We're asking more of him this year. He's another guy in the first four days, specifically after the first day, has really been practicing well and I just hope he stays where he's at."
Lashlee said freshmen Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis are doing well.
Slayton, Lashlee said, is "going to come on and he'll do fine. He's just got to get comfortable with what we're doing. For these young guys, we're putting everything in at the pace Jeremy Johnson is ready for it."
Johnson, the quarterback, is dictating the learning curve. Lashlee says the freshmen will have to catch up.
"There's been a lot going in in four days. There's a lot for them to digest."
Lashlee said Davis, "being a guy that played quarterback," is picking up the plan.
"Yesterday was probably his best day. You can tell after those first two days of feeling them out. It's just he's playing a new position. But I think they're going to do well and help us."
Lashlee said Burton "is a guy we need."
"We feel like we got a lot options and quality depth. When you look at Ricardo and Tony Stevens and Melvin Ray and Duke and Jason Smith, Marcus Davis, there’s some guys with more experience in front of him. Obviously, he’s a guy in the mix."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine