Aubserver Mailbag 121: Just how big is Auburn's roster renovation project?
This week: 2013 vs. 2023, Caleb Burton III, wide receivers, The Righteous Gemstones, Julian Phillips, sides, Buc-ee's and cybersecurity
DT Justin Rogers (Declan Greene/Auburn Athletics)
The fact that you can now gamble on how good you think Auburn football is going to be in 2023 tells us that we’re about to be in Peak Talking Season.
Auburn coaches are making their rounds at alumni club and charity events. Recruiting is still going on, because it’s an eternal task — especially in the transfer portal era. But we’re about to get into the prediction-heavy, buy-the-Athlon-or-the-Phil-Steele-magazine season preview time on the calendar.
And Auburn football is going to be a fascinating thought experiment for prognosticators this offseason. The roster is quite different than the one last year. The offense and defense have been revamped. And the schedule isn’t a totally brutal one for a first-year head coach at a place like Auburn.
That roster is the central focus of this week’s mailbag, along with some big news on the basketball horizon and a lot of local food chatter. It’s an ideal offseason mailbag, if you ask me.
I got several really good football questions that I didn’t have room for this week — particularly about the quarterback situation and the passing game — but I will be answering those in next week’s edition. So, if you don’t see your question in here, just know that I’ll get to it. Being overloaded is a fantastic problem to have, and it’s a testament to just how great the Inner Circle is here at The Observer.
What percentage of the starters and two deep do you expect to be holdovers from before this offseason vs the transfer portal (or high school recruits) in the offseason?
In order to answer this question, I’ve gotta knock out a projected two-deep depth chart. I have put off doing one since the end of spring practices, but there’s no time like the present to fire off an important piece of preseason content.
Here’s my current projection of a two-deep depth chart. I’ve tried to limit the use of “or” as much as possible, and the highlighted names are the newcomers on the roster.
By my estimation, that’s 19 of 44 (43.2%) two-deep spots on offense and defense that look like they’ll go to new faces. That’s all but one of the 16 transfers so far, plus three true freshmen. (It seemed like DeMario Tolan, who I think will play a role, wasn’t quite as far along as some of the older guys at linebacker this spring. And he’s got plenty of time.) The Jack spots are up in the air and could get yet another transfer between now and the fall, but it’s already a practically brand-new position for 2023.
I’ve also penciled in a wide receiver transfer taking a spot in the two deep, due to Auburn’s persistent push in the portal at that position. The Tigers will most likely play more than six receivers, since Philip Montgomery has a track record of using a ton of guys out wide in his offense. Jaden Muskrat was a tackle at Tulsa, but he looks like he could fit in at guard — especially if Dillon Wade and Gunner Britton hold firm.
Very few of these spots should be set in stone, and there are several that could change between now and the start of the season. With Hugh Freeze saying this week that the team might be interested in another linebacker or another defensive back, the backup roles there could get serious contenders soon.
By the time Auburn puts out a real depth chart in early September, around half of the two-deep could be populated by Tigers who weren’t on the roster last season. That’s some serious roster-flipping by a staff that hasn’t been shy about doing so from the moment it stepped onto the Plains.
Compare talent on roster between Gus’ first year and Hugh’s first year.