Where all 35 Auburn offensive scholarship players stand after spring practices
Here's our annual player-by-player breakdown of what we learned about the Tigers during the spring, starting with the offense.
RB Damari Alston and QB T.J. Finley (Austin Perryman/Auburn Athletics)
Spring practices have come and gone at Auburn. But offseason football never really stops.
Auburn closed its first spring practices of a new era with a rainy 24-24 tie between the offense and the defense at the A-Day Game last Saturday. The Tigers showed both positives and negatives on both sides of the ball, and even honors in the finale scrimmage felt representative of the 15 practices as a whole.
A freshly adjusted NCAA calendar is going to work out in Auburn’s favor. While other teams are still going through spring practices, the transfer portal will open again for its second window later this week. The Tigers’ staff, now done with the on-field team work, will be able to concentrate on picking up any more players for the 2023 season.
Of course, what the staff learned about its roster over the last several weeks will have a huge impact on who, where and how many of Auburn’s transfer strategy. With so many new faces on both the coaching side and the playing side, this spring was a real first introduction for members of this team — and there was a lot to learn in that time.
In what is becoming an annual tradition here at The Auburn Observer, let’s put a cap on the spring and look ahead to the busy summer with a player-by-player breakdown of what we saw and heard during practices.
As usual, players who will arrive later this year are not included, and we’ll follow up with the defensive side of the ball in Wednesday’s newsletter.
Consider these post-spring scouting reports for each individual player, listed in alphabetical order by last name. If you were to ask “What’s going on with [Player X] right now?,” here’s our answer.
QB Robby Ashford (Declan Greene/Auburn Athletics)
Robby Ashford: This was a big spring for Ashford, who started and ended practices as the first quarterback on the field. Ashford’s major passing struggles last season have been well-documented, and the dynamic dual-threat got hit with a double whammy of dealing with a shoulder injury and not being able to throw the ball much at A-Day. But Ashford “got better” in several areas that stood out to Hugh Freeze — mostly in how he handles himself as a potential starting quarterback — and had some of the best throws of the spring, including a 39-yard strike down the seam on the final day. It sounds like Auburn is very much open to getting another quarterback in the transfer portal, but Ashford should enter the summer as the favorite to start among the current options.
T.J. Finley: After taking a personal leave from the team late last season, Finley made his return to action this spring. During open viewing windows, he was rarely the first-team quarterback, and he was firmly with the second-string offense during the A-Day Game, where he went 1-4 through the air in a downpour. Finley said Saturday he “won’t know” if he’ll enter the portal as a graduate transfer until he discusses things with the staff and sees if they’re adding another quarterback. While the battle is still said to be wide-open, it feels like Finley would have to make some major strides over the next few months in order to get the starting job back this fall.
Holden Geriner: Perhaps the biggest development of spring practices at the quarterback position came in the form of Geriner, who went from what felt like a true No. 3 in this battle to an even competitor. The former Elite 11 finalist commanded plenty of attention during the middle of the spring with a great week of practice and some reps as the first-team quarterback in an open viewing window. (He also ran with the 1s at A-Day.) The redshirt freshman has real-deal arm talent that he wasn’t able to fully showcase in the spring game, but he’s been able to turn heads with it at other practices. He has to develop more consistency and become a better decision-maker in order to become a potential starter — typical for a young quarterback — yet the arrow is clearly pointing up for Geriner.
RB Jarquez Hunter (Austin Perryman/Auburn Athletics)