Why did Auburn add another transfer offensive lineman this spring?
The Tigers already had a strong OL class from the portal. But they still wanted to double up on Philip Montgomery's Tulsa tackles.
OL Jaden Muskrat (Auburn Football/Twitter)
SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — Auburn had already pulled off a heist on the offensive line when Hugh Freeze arrived for Senior Bowl practices in late January.
Earlier that month, the Tigers became the first team in the transfer portal era to sign three different 4-star offensive linemen in the same class. They also landed four high-school signees and a JUCO transfer up front, giving the program a massive amount of newcomers at a position that desperately needed it to survive 2023.
But Freeze was already thinking about the next step. Before the likes of Gunner Britton, Avery Jones and Dillon Wade had even taken a step onto the Auburn practice field, the Tigers wanted more.
“I like to carry 16 offensive linemen, and they had seven on scholarship when I arrived,” Freeze said on January 31. “Signing nine in one class is almost impossible, so I think we did as good as we could. We got eight at mid-year, which is huge. Obviously, we'll still look for one more in the second portal period to get to our number.”
Auburn isn’t at 16 on the offensive line — Colby Smith left via the transfer portal after the end of spring practices — but it still got that fourth transfer in the portal.
Earlier in May, the Tigers signed Jaden Muskrat, a former starting right tackle for new offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery at Tulsa. Muskrat started opposite Wade for the Golden Hurricane, and he considered joining up with Arkansas’ highly regarded offensive line under Sam Pittman before choosing a reunion on the Plains.
Some Auburn fans have asked why the Tigers got Muskrat, another offensive tackle, when it looks like both Wade and Britton have locked down starting jobs on the outside.
According to the Auburn coach who knows him best, Muskrat represents versatility and security up front for the Tigers.
“I think he's a guy that can play probably four out of the five spots,” Montgomery said Monday before the Jackson County Auburn Club annual meeting in Scottsboro. “I think he can give us some presence inside, but also the flexibility to play outside at tackle.”