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Auburn leads the way with 14 NFL rookies this season
Oct. 29, 2015

Former Auburn player Cameron Artis-Payne is pushing through with the NFL Carolina Panthers

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. — You know you've placed a lot of rookies in the NFL when one of your guys replaces another one of your guys as a kick returner.

That's what happened for Auburn coach Gus Malzahn last week when Nick Marshall stepped in to replace the injured Corey Grant as the kick returner for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Auburn has 14 rookies, the most of any big-time school, spread across NFL rosters this season.

"I think that says our guys can move on to the next level and be successful," Malzahn said. "I'm happy that from last year's group so many of those guys have made it."

The 14 players are on active, injured or reserve NFL rosters. In all, 31 former Auburn players are in the NFL including Cam Newton, who's among the early leaders to be named the MVP.

Malzahn said the newest group to make is a plus for Auburn.

"Those guys were big factors in us making the national championship game, and helped us win a lot of games," Malzahn said. "It shows you can be developed here, go to the next level and be successful.

"When we first got here there were only a couple of guys who made it. The goal of ours was to get this thing back where it should be as far as getting guys to the next level. We're very excited about that as a program."

Receiver Quan Bray made a move this week when Indianapolis promoted him from the practice squad to the active roster.

Marshall, a quarterback for Malzahn the previous two seasons, is a defensive back for the Jaguars. But he jumped in to return kickoffs last week, returning his only chance 19 yards. He replaced Grant, his old backfield mate at Auburn, who is now out for the season with a hip flexor injury. Grant averaged 27½ yards on his eight kickoff returns.

Grant's move to the injured reserve still leaves Auburn with nine active rookies, tied for the most of any FBS school.

Here's a list of NFL rookies who were at Auburn last season:

Brandon King, DB, New England  Active
C.J. Uzomah, TE, Cincinnati  Active
Sammie Coates, WR, Pittsburgh  Active
Quan Bray, WR, Indianapolis  Active
Nick Marshall, DB, Jacksonville  Active
Angelo Blackson, DL, Tennessee  Active
Robenson Therezie, DB, Atlanta  Active
Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Carolina Active
Gabe Wright, DL, Detroit  Active
Trovon Reed, DB, Miami  Practice
Reese Dismukes, OL, Carolina Practice
Jermaine Whitehead, DB, San Fran Practice
Chad Slade, OL, Houston  Injured reserve
Corey Grant, RB, Jacksonville Injured reserve

Rookies by SEC schools
1. Auburn            14
2.  Florida            12
3.  LSU                  9
4.  Georgia             8
     Alabama            8
     Mississippi St.    8
7.  South Carolina   6
8.  Texas A&M        5
     Missouri            5
     Arkansas           5
11. Kentucky          3
12. Tennessee         2
      Ole Miss            2
14. Vanderbilt          0

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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