Dec. 18, 2013
Sammie Coates will be one of the nation’s top returning wide receivers in 2014, his coach believes (Anthony Hall photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – Wide receivers coach and former Auburn quarterback Dameyune Craig says Tiger receivers have bought into doing their part in the nation’s most productive running game.
“They go out and do dirty work every single week,” Craig said. “They go out each and every week and block their butts off. When it’s time for them to make plays, they come through. It takes a lot of humility. I can truly say these are all Auburn men. When I first got here, I couldn’t say that. But they have sacrificed their own personal gain for good of the team.”
Craig said he expects Sammie Coates to be one of the nation’s top receivers in 2014.
JUCO signees boost Auburn recruiting rankings
Auburn’s Wednesday recruiting haul has the Tigers climbing the national recruiting rankings.
With the signing of four of the nation’s top junior college prospects, the Tigers have moved to No. 7 according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, No. 8 according to Rivals and No. 9 according to Scout.
Leading the way was 5-star wide receiver D’haquille Williams, the nation’s top overall junior college prospect.
For the story on Auburn’s signees, follow the link: http://www.auburntigers.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/121813aaj.html .
Tigers face another big-time quarterback
When Auburn faces Jameis Winston, Florida State’s Heisman Trophy-winner in the BCS Championship Game, it will be business as usual.
Three quarterbacks – Winston, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel – finished in the top six in Heisman balloting. Auburn beat McCarron and Alabama 34-28 and beat A&M and Manziel 45-41.
“We have faced some dynamic quarterbacks,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “They are a little bit different, but have won a lot of games. I hope that will help us. Obviously, we are playing the Heisman Trophy winner, the best player in college football, so we have our work cut out for us.”
Getting physical was Auburn’s mission
From the time he arrived as head coach last December, Malzahn was determined that Auburn would be a physical football team. Getting there was the mission in the offseason program, in spring practice and in preseason camp.
“In spring, we were as physical as we could be every day,” Malzahn said. “We thought it was important that we got our edge back. We were really physical in fall camp too. We were a little banged up going into the year, but we felt like that is what we needed. That is what Auburn is.
“We are probably the only team in the country that actually let our quarterbacks go live in the fall, too. That really helped us get to where we are. That is who we are.”
Focusing on young players
Since returning to the practice field Monday to begin preparations for the BCS National Championship Game, much of the focus has been on redshirts and other young players. Malzahn said the work has been valuable.
“It’s really hard to see one guy sticking out, but we’re letting them compete,” Malzahn said. “Overall, I’ve been happy with the whole group. They’re excited. When looking at a lot of those guys on the scout team in the middle of the season, it’s hard for position coaches to really get a good look at them.
“They have really responded well. It’s good for our coaches to evaluate those guys and spend time with them. It’s been a really good thing the last couple days.”
Malzahn said the focus will turn to preparing for Florida State later in the week.
Kozan’s rise no surprise to Dismukes
Junior center Reese Dismukes, asked if he was surprised that redshirt freshman Alex Kozan had started every game at left guard, had a quick answer.
“No,” Dismukes said. “I knew he would. He almost won the job as a true freshman.”
Whitt: Tough competition is a good thing
Joe Whitt, an Auburn coach for 25 years and an assistant athletic director and fund raiser for the last eight years, says it’s good for both Auburn and Alabama that they face stiff competition in their home state.
“Without question,” Whitt said. “Universally, that’s true if you are a competitor. If you’re not a competitor, you tuck your tail and go the other way. If you are a competitor, absolutely. You look at Tiger Woods. When he first started, nobody could touch him. Now he’s just another guy because he raised the level of golf across the board.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: