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'They've impressed us' - freshmen to debut in Auburn season opener
Freshman T.D. Moultry, No. 55, is one of eight freshmen listed on Auburn's defensive depth chart.

Aug. 29, 2017

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - For Auburn fans accustomed to seeing No. 55 and No. 1 chase quarterbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Saturday's season opener might look familiar.

With Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams playing in the NFL, a new generation of pass rushers -- with names likes T.D. Moultry wearing No. 55 and Big Kat Bryant sporting No. 1 - will debut against Georgia Southern at 6:30 p.m.

"We've said all along, there are going to be some of these true freshmen who will be able to play, and there will be quite a few who will help us on special teams," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "The depth factor that we've been talking about, true freshmen have a lot to do with that. Excited about their progress. They've impressed us so far."

Of the 11 defensive linemen listed on Auburn's depth chart, four are freshmen, including Moultry, who is listed with junior Paul James III behind Jeff Holland at the buck defensive end position.

"I think he has the ability to rush the passer and I think he has a great motor and he will help us on special teams," Malzahn said.

Freshman Tyrone Truesdell is listed with junior Byron Cowart at second-team defensive tackle, behind Dontavius Russell.

"He's impressed us," said Malzahn of the 6-foot-2, 238-pound Truesdell. "He's a big guy who can hold a gap. He needs experience, but so far he has done some good things."

<em> Big Kat Bryant, No. 1, with Jeff Holland during preseason camp.</em>
Big Kat Bryant, No. 1, with Jeff Holland during preseason camp.

Bryant and redshirt freshman Nick Coe are listed behind Marlon Davidson at defensive end.

"He's a strong, athletic guy," said Malzahn of Bryant.

Coe, a redshirt freshman, has impressed teammates throughout preseason camp. Malzahn offered his affirmation during Tuesday's weekly media session.

"He's definitely a big, fast athletic guy," Malzahn said. "He is more and more comfortable every practice. He does have a lot of ability, he just needs experience. I know last year, even though he redshirted, there were times in the second half of the season, they had him getting reps and that was really good for him. In the spring, he really took the next step.

"This fall camp, I feel like he's taken the next step. He gives us the ability, he's an outside guy, he can also play inside. If he keeps progressing and getting experience, he's got a chance to be a very good football player."

Four other freshmen are listed on the defensive depth chart: K.J. Britt and Chandler Wooten behind Deshaun Davis at linebacker, Traivon Leonard behind Carlton Davis at cornerback and Jordyn Peters behind Daniel Thomas or Jeremiah Dinson at nickel.

On offense, freshmen receivers Marquis McClain and Noah Igbinoghene made the depth chart behind starters Nate Craig-Myers and Eli Stove, as did Calvin Ashley at right tackle behind Darius James.

After four weeks of preseason camp, the young Tigers and their veteran teammates are eager to display their talents on the SEC Network.

"We're glad game week is here," Malzahn said. "And I'm ready to see our team get out there on the field Saturday and see what the 2017 Auburn Tigers look like."

Malzahn also said:

On cornerback Jamel Dean... "He's a guy that this time last year was fighting for a starting position, and he hurt his knee. He has had a solid fall camp, and he has gotten better. I know he's hungry to get out there and play, since he missed last year and redshirted the year before. He is a very talented young man and I am excited to watch him.

On receiver Sal Cannella... "He is one of those guys that can be moved around. He has wide receiver skills. He does a lot of the dirty work. You will see him play tight end and H-back as well. He is a hybrid guy that we will utilize in different areas."

On Jarrett Stidham..."He is really excited. The reality is he has only played four college football games. We have to keep that in mind. We have a good plan for him to bring him along. He is a very talented young man, and I know he is ready to get out there and see what happens. I think he is in a really good spot right now, but he is still an inexperienced guy.

"His team is all behind him. You can tell he's really excited this week. You can tell this week is even different than it has been and he's got a lot of energy anyway. So I'm excited to see what he does out there, but we've got to keep in mind he's played four games in college, so we've got to keep that in mind as we move forward."

On Kerryon Johnson as a kick returner... "Kerryon is one of the better kick returners in our league. He is so good at being an off returner, too, so we'll just see. To have that depth is probably the main thing. Javaris Davis is another guy I'm real excited about. He's probably the fastest guy on our team. I think he has a chance to be pretty explosive back there, too. A lot of people recruited him as an offensive player and he was a very good kick returner in high school. I'm excited to see what he can do, too."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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