Jordan Diamond, right, slows down Gabe Wright in practice
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Jordan Diamond has had time to think about his offensive line buddies, whether during the time he was out following shoulder surgery or the time he missed after knee surgery or the time he's returned to the practice field this fall.
"All I can do is praise my teammates," said the Tigers' right guard.
Diamond is vying for a starting spot as he returns from injury and as Auburn moves toward its opener against Arkansas on Aug. 30, and he sees a lot of quality all along the line.
It starts with the anchor, center Reese Dismukes.
"He's one of our core leaders," Diamond said. "He's always on alert. He's always bringing the energy in practice. When everything's down, he's the one who is motivating us to get practicing hard and get on with the day. Reese is one of those guys you can learn from. He definitely has had an impact on me and my career here at Auburn. He's one of those guys you look up to, you learn a lot from, and ultimately try to get like them, because he's one of the best in the country."
Diamond and Avery Young are both right guards.
"Avery's doing great. He's learning fast. We're both learning fast," Diamond said. "But right now, he's a guy who has more experience than I do, and he's been out there more.
"All I can do is work my hardest and back him up when I can."
And Diamond has praise for the freshman of many nicknames, one Braden Smith.
"I call him the Terminator," Diamond said. "That guy is an amazing athlete to be so young, and obviously he's one of the strongest guys on the team, if not the strongest guy on the team. He's learning fast. He's going to be a monster in the near future."
Last year's offensive line produced the most rushing yards in Auburn history. Alas, Greg Robinson is gone as the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft and Alex Kozan is out for the year following back surgery.
Not to worry, Diamond said.
"We've got a fantastic offensive line. I think we've got a chance to be the best offensive line in the country. We've got to continue to work together. Right now, we're physically tough and mentally tough. We've just got to go out and execute when it's time.
"The depth is awesome. We're all working together, and everybody's getting familiar with each other, with guys moving around. I'm just going to be ready to step in when a guy goes down and show that I'm good and ready to go."
Diamond said he's ready to contribute after a shoulder surgery following his redshirt freshman year and knee surgery last February that cost him spring practice.
"It's been a long time coming. Actually, it's been a long time since I've played a snap," Diamond said. "It's been a long summer, just grinding and hitting the gym, getting as much work as I can. You know, all I can do is give it all I got and move forward from there."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine