Peyton Barber is on the move for Auburn during this preseason
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Peyton Barber has watched Tre Mason rush for 1,800 yards and Cameron Artis-Payne rush for 1,600 more during the last two seasons.
Barber wants to see what he can do.
Barber is in an Auburn running back race with Roc Thomas, Jovon Robinson and Kerryon Johnson, one that began when preseason practice began two weeks ago, and one that continued in Saturday's scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
There's no winner yet, though running backs coach Tim Horton said Thomas and Barber are the leaders of the pack.
"They're both going to play. Who's going to be in there first? I couldn't tell you. I don't know if that's really important," Horton said.
Barber said he appreciated Horton's compliment. That, he said Saturday, "means a lot, but anything can happen."
"The past two years I've been wanting to play, but I haven't. I've just got to keep pushing."
Barber was redshirted in 2013 and got in enough to gain 54 yards on 10 carries last season. But Barber, a two-time All-SEC academic winner, is entering his third year in Gus Malzahn's offense, and that's a plus.
"You're talking about he's got more experience than any of the tailbacks that are here," Malzahn said. "He's getting to be a guy that we can really count on. Roc has very good job in fall camp being a guy we can count on. Jovon got quite a few carries today and he protected the football and did some very good things.
"We're in a good position that we are going into the year with three guys. Then you've got Kerryon that we're confident he'll help us this year.
"We're feeling pretty good with where we’re at the running back position."
Barber tried to impress with a long run after a short pass Saturday in a rebound performance for the offense.
Barber said the pitch, and his catch, plays to one of his strengths. "I feel like I have very, very good hands."
The defense dominated the first scrimmage last Monday. Barber called that a "wake up call" for the offense. Barber and Co. responded Saturday, leaving the running back feeling good about the coming weeks.
"I feel very comfortable in the offense. There are still things I've got to work on, but I'm feeling confident and I feel very comfortable," Barber said.
In the short term, and long term, Barber said he needed to "pretty much just stay in my playbook and make sure I have everything down. My pass protections. Focus on ball security."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine