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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Auburn
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  2023 ALL-BIG TEN HONORABLE MENTION: KeAndre Lambert-Smith,...Has started 39 career games and owns 126 receptions for 1,721 yards and 11 touchdowns as a Nittany Lion...Lambert-Smith is 12th all-time at Penn State in career receptions (126)...He is tied 17th in receiving touchdowns (17) and ranks 17th in receiving yards (1,721)...The Virginia native has 23 career receptions of 20+ yards, four touchdown receptions of 50+ yards and three career touchdown receptions of 70+ yards. - Penn State Football

rSr/2025 WR KeAndre Lambert-SmithAuburn
News Source: Penn State Football
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  App State football released its 2023 schedule featuring a Power Five rematch in Chapel Hill and a Tuesday home game. The Mountaineers are coming off a 6-6 2022 season and will get a fresh start in 2023 with a new slate of games. The season kicks off at Kidd Brewer Stadium Sept. 2 against Gardner-Webb. The two teams last faced off in 2018, where App State won 72-7. After the home opener, the Mountaineers will travel to Chapel Hill Sept. 9 to take on North Carolina. Last season was a game to remember, as UNC narrowly won 63-61. This matchup will be the most anticipated non-conference game as the Tar Heels will have 2022 ACC Player of the Year, sophomore Drake Maye at quarterback. Maye had 353 pass yards and five total touchdowns in his last matchup against App State.

The Mountaineers travel back home Sept. 16 for Family Weekend against historic rival East Carolina. The two last faced off in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium in 2021, where App State won 33-19. App State finishes its non-conference slate by traveling west to Wyoming Sept. 23. The Mountaineers played the Cowboys in 2015, and App State protected The Rock with a 31-13 victory. The Sun Belt Conference schedule highlights include hosting Coastal Carolina Oct. 10 and Marshall Nov. 4. App State last hosted both teams in 2021, where both games came down to the wire with 31-30 and 30-27 victories for the Black and Gold. - The Appalachian

rSr/2025 OLB Jalen McLeodAuburn
News Source: The Appalachian
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  Zac Etheridge was excited to be retained by Freeze back in December after the Tigers' new coach took over the program, but the real music to his ears came once Pritchett and James informed him they planned to play one more season at Auburn. With both of the Tigers' starting corners locked in for 2023, it meant Etheridge's defensive backs room wasn't going to lose any pieces from last season, save for the midseason transfer of reserve cornerback A.D. Diamond (who wound up at UAB). Etheridge described that turn of events as a new feeling to him as a coach; it's difficult to maintain the same personnel from year to year, particularly nowadays with the transfer portal and one-time transfer opportunity, but to do so when you also have a pair of potential NFL players in the room makes it even more noteworthy.

James made a name for himself in his first SEC season after transferring to Auburn from Oregon last year. The 5-foot-1, 174-pounder had 38 tackles, with 25 solo stops and one tackle for a loss, along with an interception that he returned for a touchdown against Western Kentucky. He also tied for the team lead with eight pass breakups while earning second-team All-SEC honors from the AP and the conference's coaches. Pritchett, who took over as Auburn's top corner last season - starting all 12 games - while following in the footsteps of Roger McCreary, finished the year with a career-high 37 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss, and eight pass breakups. - Birmingham News

rSr/2024 CB Nehemiah PritchettAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  The back end of Auburn's defense is in good shape heading into the first spring under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze and new defensive coordinator Ron Roberts. Having Etheridge return to his role in the secondary was a big deal for the Tigers, and adding McGriff back to the staff for his third tour on the Plains brings a well-respected veteran presence to the room - not that Auburn's safety group was short on that from a personnel aspect. The Tigers weren't really at risk of losing their top safeties this offseason (at least in comparison to cornerback, where Nehemiah Pritchett and D.J. James could have feasibly bolted for the NFL Draft), but it's still notable that Auburn returns every contributor at safety in 2023. That starts at the top of the depth chart with Puckett and Kaufman, the redshirt senior and the former Vanderbilt transfer, respectively.

Puckett is in his fifth year with the program and is heading into Year 3 as a starter for Auburn's defense. Last season he started 11 of the team's 12 games and recorded 45 tackles and a pair of pass breakups. Kaufman, who spent part of his first season at Auburn in 2021 playing nickel, shifted to safety last season and made seven starts alongside Puckett. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder had 40 tackles, a pair of pass breakups and a forced fumble. - Birmingham News

rSr/2024 SS Zion PuckettAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze, defensive coordinator Ron Roberts, and defensive line coach Jeremy Garrett are working to retool a defensive line that's losing Colby Wooden, who was one the Tigers' leaders in sacks and tackles for losses last season. Marquis Burks and Marcus Bragg are also leaving the program. Freeze emphasized developing the defensive line since he got hired. He and Garrett have added several talented athletes in the transfer portal and through high school recruiting. Lawrence Johnson, Mosiah Nasili-Kite, and Justin Rodgers are three players with Power 5 experience who can fill roles for the Tigers.

Jayson Jones and Marcus Harris are returning starters. Jones transferred from Oregon and posted 28 tackles as a nose tackle last season. The Birmingham native relished returning to his home state. Harris had two sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 30 tackles last season. Jones and Harris returning bode well for the Tigers building depth on the defensive line. - Birmingham News

rSr/2025 DT Jayson JonesAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  Auburn's success in the tight end room during the 2023 season will depend upon how the group under new position coach Ben Aigamaua can replace John Samuel Shenker. The former team captain graduated with 718 yards, 68 catches, and one touchdown over three seasons for the Tigers. Shenker was a trusted security blanket as the program transitioned from Bo Nix at quarterback to T.J. Finley and Robby Ashford. With the quarterback position still in flux, it'd help immensely if the Tigers have a sound tight end that can catch passes and provide blocking.

The Tigers may have the answer with former Florida International University tight end Rivaldo Fairweather joining the squad. Fairweather had 54 receptions for 838 yards and five touchdowns in three seasons. He caught 28 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns last season. Fairweather is a talented athlete at 6?5 and 245 pounds. He's speedy enough to beat linebackers and safeties while being difficult for smaller corners to tackle. He brings an added dimension of running routes at any distance. Fairweather living up to expectations will be crucial for the Tigers to succeed under new head coach Hugh Freeze and offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery. Aigamaua told reporters earlier in February that Fairweather is an example of the tight end he wants at Auburn. - Birmingham News

rSr/2025 TE Rivaldo FairweatherAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  Replacing star runningback Tank Bigsby is a complex ask for offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery. Bigbsy had 973 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, leaving the Plains for the 2023 National Football League Draft seventh on the Tigers' rushing yard list with 2,903 yards. Bigsby was a reliable three-year starter and leading rusher. Jarquez Hunter returns to Auburn after posting seven touchdowns and 673 yards last season. Hunter finished the season going over 100 yards in each of Auburn's final three games. He ran for 134 yards in the Iron Bowl loss against Alabama.

Hunter ran for 109 yards on 13 carries in the win against Western Kentucky. He also ran for 114 yards in the emotional win for the Tigers in Carnell Williams' first victory as interim head coach at Jordan-Hare. If Hunter is ready to elevate into a starring role, it will bode well for the Auburn offense seeking to bounce back from a losing season. Hunter has the tools to be the next elite back in the Tigers' esteemed history of running backs. Auburn will count on him to show it each week in the SEC. - Birmingham News

Sr/2025 RB Jarquez HunterAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  In transferring to Auburn as part of the Tigers' impressive haul during the first transfer portal window, Nick Mardner reunites with the position coach under whom he had his most productive season. Mardner comes to Auburn with 81 career receptions for 1,488 yards and 11 touchdowns, with the majority of that production coming during Davis' lone season as an assistant at Hawaii, which was also his first as a full-time on-field coach.

During their 2021 campaign together, Mardner finished with career highs in receptions (46), receiving yards (913) and touchdowns (five). He had three 100-yard performances, and he was also 10th among all qualifying FBS receivers in yards per reception that season, averaging 19.8 yards per catch. "What I think he brings is the combination of size and speed," Davis said. "He's every bit of 6-5, and he can run." Mardner's experience will be welcome at Auburn, which doesn't return another wide receiver on the roster whose career production compares to Mardner's best season at Hawaii. - Birmingham News

rSr/2024 WR Nick MardnerAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  Brian Battie wasn't on Cadillac Williams' radar until Philip Montgomery planted a seed during an early film session among Auburn's new offensive assistants. Before Battie, the former South Florida running back, hit the portal, Montgomery and Williams were studying film when the former Tulsa head coach recalled one of the best individual performances against his team last season. In Tulsa's 48-42 win against USF on Nov. 18, Battie rushed for 169 yards while averaging 8.89 yards per carry. It was the highest individual rushing performance surrendered by Tulsa's defense last season. "Cadillac, South Florida's got a running back that's tough," Williams recalled Montgomery saying. Williams took note and filed it away in the back of his mind. Auburn's running back room was in need of another option; it was returning Jarquez Hunter and a less-experienced piece in Damari Alston while bringing in four-star 2023 signee Jeremiah Cobb, but the Tigers wanted more depth after leading rusher Tank Bigsby declared for the NFL Draft. The only problem? At the time, Battie wasn't in the transfer portal.

That changed on Jan. 6, when Battie opted to transfer from USF after three productive seasons, including a consensus All-America nod as a return specialist in 2021 and a 1,000-yard campaign in 2022. Williams perked up as soon as he saw Battie's name in the portal, recalling Montgomery's earlier mention of the 5-foot-8, 165-pounder. "To have a guy like him jump in there, I was ecstatic," Williams said. "So, (I) got an opportunity to cut on his film, and his film speaks for itself." It's not every day a program has an opportunity to bring in a former All-American through the transfer market, and Williams was thoroughly impressed with what he saw from Battie during his time at South Florida in the various roles he played. There was of course the 1,186 rushing yards last fall, when Battie averaged 6.7 yards per carry-the 20th-best mark among FBS running backs in 2022. His 98.83 rushing yards per game ranked 23rd among all qualifying players in the country. He had seven 100-yard performances as a junior, including five in a row to close out the year, and has nine for his career. - Birmingham News

rSr/2025 RB Brian BattieAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  02/06/23 - D.J. JamesrSr/2024, Auburn + More +

  Two weeks after Zac Etheridge announced he was "here to stay" as one of Auburn's assistant coaches, two of his top players from last fall followed suit. D.J. James announced his decision to return for a second season with the Tigers on New Year's Eve, while fellow cornerback Nehemiah Pritchett did the same two days later. The decisions by James and Pritchett weren't entirely unexpected - the two had ongoing conversations with Etheridge and the rest of the staff since the season ended - but they marked considerable offseason wins for new Auburn coach Hugh Freeze and his staff heading into Year 1. "Obviously, they created a lot of value for themselves with their play and what they did on the field, but a reality, the experience that they have and to be able to come back to a group and not losing anyone in the secondary - I mean, it's been obviously huge to us because the leadership back should be a great experience. But having those two guys back help us on the outside."

In James and Pritchett, Auburn returns both of its starting corners from last season. James arrived at Auburn last offseason after starting his career at Oregon, and the Mobile native acclimated himself well in his return to his home state as he established himself as one of the top corners in the SEC in 2022. The 6-foot-1, 174-pounder had 38 total tackles, with 25 solo stops and one tackle for a loss. He had one interception, which he returned for a touchdown during Auburn's home finale against Western Kentucky, and he tied Pritchett for the team lead with eight pass breakups while earning second-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press and the league's coaches. - Birmingham News

rSr/2024 CB D.J. JamesAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  Two former Auburn stars - running back Tank Bigsby and kicker Anders Carlson - both shared on their Instagram stories that they have received invites to the NFL Combine. This year's NFL Combine will be held in Indianapolis from Feb. 28 to March 6. Bigsby and Carlson are sure to be joined by other former Auburn teammates at the annual scouting showcase, but they're the only ones to disclose so far that they have been invited to participate in the event.

Bigsby was Auburn's starting running back the last three seasons, and ran for 2,903 yards and 25 touchdowns. Carlson spent six seasons at Auburn and served as the Tigers' starting placekicker for each of the last five years, missing time at the end of the 2021 and 2022 seasons due to injury. He is the younger brother of Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson, who led the league in kicking two years and was a 2022 All-Pro. - Birmingham News

rSr/2023 K Anders CarlsonAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  01/23/23 - Owen PappoeSr/2023, Auburn + More +

  Former Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe won't play in the upcoming Reese's Senior Bowl due to injury, executive director Jim Nagy confirmed Friday. Pappoe's withdrawal leaves fellow linebackers Etu Leota and Derick Hall as the Tigers' representatives in the annual college football all-star game and NFL draft showcase, set for Feb. 4 at Mobile's Hancock Whitney Stadium. Pappoe's exit was "disappointing," Nagy said. "Owen's not going to be able to come, unfortunately," Nagy said in an appearance on Mobile's SportsTalk 99.5 FM. "I felt like he needed it [to participate in Senior Bowl week]. Everyone knows that Owen can run...But coming down here, I thought he could help himself in coverage and in the interviews. The guys up at Auburn rave about his intelligence, his football acumen and his work ethic. "That was a disappointing one. I know he was dealing with some sort of injury. He just wanted to be 100% full-go for the combine."

Pappoe, a former 5-star recruit, totaled a team-best 91 tackles, along with three tackles for loss and an interception in 12 games. However, he has reportedly been dealing with a shoulder injury in recent weeks. Pappoe's injury won't require surgery, according to reports. He is expected to participate in the NFL Combine and Auburn's Pro Day, leading into the April 27-29 NFL draft. - Birmingham News

Sr/2023 ILB Owen PappoeAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  01/19/23 - Avery JonesrSr/2024, Auburn + More +

  One of Auburn's most significant struggles during the 2022 season was inconsistency at the center position. The Tigers never quite recovered from losing Brahms to medical retirement a few weeks before the season. Tate Johnson and Council took most of the snaps in place of Brahms, but the absence of an experienced center glared on a team that, at times, was stagnant offensively. Jones started every game last season at East Carolina and 11 of 12 the previous year for the Pirates. Expect him to anchor the Tiger offensive line that wants to improve run blocking and pass protection. - Birmingham News

rSr/2024 C Avery JonesAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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  01/16/23 - Austin KeysrSr/2025, Auburn + More +

  Auburn added another Southeastern Conference veteran to its 2023 class Saturday night, as former Ole Miss Rebel Austin Keys announced he'd be joining the Tigers. Keys joins former LSU linebacker DeMario Tolan as the second SEC West linebacker to transfer to Auburn this cycle, and he's the fourth SEC defender to join the Tigers, including Kentucky defensive lineman Justin Rogers and Vanderbilt edge rusher Elijah McAllister. Auburn football coach recaps the Tigers' early signing period pickups on Dec. 21. Keys spent three years in Oxford, and had his most productive yet in 2022, logging a career-high 39 tackles to go with 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also forced one fumble. - Opelika-Auburn News

rSr/2025 ILB Austin KeysAuburn
News Source: Opelika-Auburn News
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  Hugh Freeze noted in December that Auburn football would focus on "big men" in the transfer portal. He kept delivering on his promise Thursday. Justin Rogers, a defensive tackle that's spent his career at Kentucky, announced his transfer to the Plains via social media. The Tigers confirmed the signing shortly after. He is Auburn's fourth transfer defensive lineman and 31st new player expected to join the roster for Freeze's first season. "Now it's time for me to open a new chapter," Rogers tweeted with his decision. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Rogers, listed at 6-foot-3, 332-pounds, appeared in all 26 games this fall for the Wildcats the last two seasons, recording 35 total tackles, and 1.5 tackles for loss as a senior. He started four games in 2021 after being a rotational piece as a freshman. On Nov. 21, 2020, Rogers made three tackles against Alabama, tying a career-high. Before reaching Lexington, Rogers was one of the top prospects in the country out of Oak (Mich.) Park. 247Spoorts Composite ranked Rogers as the No. 52 player in the country and the seventh-best defensive tackle. - Birmingham News

rJr/2024 DT Justin RogersAuburn
News Source: Birmingham News
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