By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says doesn't seem that long ago that he was recruiting these guys. Now, 20 seniors will play their final home in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
They'll be honored for their accomplishment in pregame ceremonies before Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game against Alabama A&M.
"It seems like the other day we were recruiting them," Malzahn said. "They got here, they were freshmen, they were a little green, and now they're our leaders. They've really grown into fabulous football players.
"I'm just real proud of the group."
The seniors — some signed long ago, some transfers, some walk-ons — who will be recognized are Montravius Adams, Xavier Dampeer, Marcus Davis, T.J. Davis, Rudy Ford, Josh Holsey, Jeremy Johnson, Alex Kozan, Devaroe Lawrence, Robert Leff, T.J. Neal, Kevin Phillips, Tony Stevens, Maurice Swain, Marshall Taylor, Jackson Thomas, Jack Bjork, Austin Dupper, Greg Hall Jr. and Damian Lewis.
Malzahn said the team wants to see them out the right way.
"Our team is very, very close. But any time you can really honor your seniors, and they get to play that last time in our home stadium, it's a real special feeling.
"That's what this day is all about."
One of the seniors will make his first start of the season. Johnson, Auburn's primary quarterback last season, will replace the injured Sean White in this, Game No. 11.
"His team is excited for him. I know that makes him feel good," Malzahn said.
Auburn has a long list of seniors – and injured players. Much of the backfield is out. Auburn, 7-3 overall, will try to dispatch the visiting Bulldogs, 4-6, in preparation to finishing the regular season at Alabama on Nov. 26.
"We need to finish strong," Malzahn said. "We've got a lot to play for. We're one of the best teams in the SEC so far. We've got to finish this thing. Our guys are excited about the last two games."
Marcus Davis is both a senior and one who will watch from the sidelines. He'll will miss at least the final two regular-season games after injuring his shoulder late in last week's loss at Georgia. Join the club, Marcus Davis.
"Marcus Davis, you're not supposed to have favorites as coaches, but he's just a wonderful person," Malzahn said. "Not having him the rest of the season is a tough blow. He's been great leader.
"But it's an opportunity for these young guys to get more playing time."
The Auburn offense has been particularly hard hit with injuries. White, Davis, SEC leading rusher Kamryn Pettway and fellow running backs Stanton Truitt and Chandler Cox are also out with injuries. They're being rested for next week's game at Alabama. No. 2 rusher Kerryon Johnson is scheduled to play. Kam Martin, walk-on Damian Lewis and possibly Rudy Ford will get carries.
Ford, Auburn's leading tackler the last two years, was signed as a running back and has occasionally practiced at thast position. He made cameo appearances in two games as a freshman, and was in the mix to get carries in this season's opener against Clemson. That didn't happen.
"He's familiar with the offense, " Malzahn said.
Malzahn said others are ready to fill the void.
"It'll be a chance to see some good young guys Saturday," he said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine