By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Stanton Truitt says he was never as open on a pass route when he played receiver as he was as a running back.
"It was big," Truitt said. "I really couldn't see it that well, but I ended up grabbing it and just taking off. I really couldn't see the ball. The lights were kind of glared off. I thought, `I've got to catch this, or I know my teammates will make fun of me.' Luckily I did."
Truitt's 45-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter was sandwiched between his TD runs in Auburn's 56-3 win over Arkansas, a hat trick that brought back memories of 3-touchdown games in high school in Atlanta.
"It was thrilling. It was an adrenaline rush. I was just out there having fun," Truitt said.
A receiver throughout his Auburn career until a recent switch to running back, Truitt redshirted in 2014 after an early-season injury. His 2015 season also ended prematurely after another injury, sustained against Arkansas.
"It means a lot," Truitt said. "I thought about it all week. After everything that I've been through, it definitely means a lot. My teammates, they're very proud of me, the coaches, so it's a big night. I didn't expect it to happen like that. I just expected to do my part and play my game."
Adding extra motivation, Truitt's father, Stan, is a former Razorback.
"Not really any bad vibes about it," Stanton said. "He just really wants to see me do well."
Truitt changed positions when injuries to teammates left Auburn thin at running back.
"I like it a lot," Truitt said. "It was weird at first, trying to get the hang of everything. Once you get comfortable with it, it's fun.
"It was just about helping the team. Guys were getting banged up, and it was just about being able to help getting depth there, if anything went wrong. It was tough at first, trying to figure the ins and outs to being a running back. KJ, Kamryn Pettway, Kamryn Martin, Malik, those guys made it easy for me to come over. They welcomed me with open arms. Coach Horton as well. It's fun being there."
Having an extra week to prepare increased Truitt's comfort level at his new position.
"It helped a lot," Truitt said. "Me and Kam Martin got a lot of reps, so going into the game we weren't really feeling scared about anything. Every game I'm getting more reps and that helps out a lot as well."
With Kerryon Johnson nursing an injury, Truitt figured to have an increased role against Arkansas.
"I told Kerryon, `You don't have to play. We'll do it for you. We're your teammates. We love you. We'll do it,' Truitt said. "We got our opportunities tonight, and we took advantage of it."
He's been a full-time running back for only a few weeks, but Truitt already knows Rule No. 1: share the credit with the offensive line.
"Those guys do a great job of getting to their blocks and being physical," Truitt said. "They tell us every time, `Just run behind us. We're going to make a hole for you.' It's really easy doing your job when you have those guys in front of you. We could do the play over and over again. Those guys are going to move somebody."
Auburn will take a 4-game winning streak to Ole Miss next week.
"Nothing's changed. We always said we're going to stay focused," he said. "We're going to stick together. Get better every day, every week, every game. And that's what we're doing. That was the big goal, and that's what we're doing. Each day we improve, and it shows."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer