How will Auburn follow up The Year of the Tight End?
The Tigers used their tight ends *much* more often in 2021. In 2022, everybody's back — plus a newcomer. What could that look like?
TE John Samuel Shenker (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Scan Auburn’s practice field at any point in spring ball, and you’ll see a lot of fluidity.
There are three new quarterbacks battling with T.J. Finley, and they’re being coached by new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau. His old position, wide receiver, is a thin group at the moment. Cadillac Williams’ running backs are missing No. 2 option Jarquez Hunter, who is out for the spring after a knee operation. Will Friend’s offensive line has a notable absence in Brandon Council and several non-contact jerseys for its veterans.
Over on defense, new line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh is dealing with a changing cast of characters up front. Fellow newcomer Christian Robinson is coaching a group that is currently without star Owen Pappoe. Zac Etheridge’s secondary went through arguably the biggest amount of changes this offseason.
And then there’s Brad Bedell’s group at tight end.
Everybody’s back. Everybody’s healthy. The only change is in the form of freshman early enrollee Micah Riley-Ducker, the sixth scholarship member of the deepest and, arguably, most experienced position group on the team.
When asked Monday if he was the envy of the other assistants because of all that stability at his group, Bedell laughed and said he’s still in the same spot as his fellow staff members.
“Everybody's just trying to get their room better,” Bedell said. “We say we've got a lot of experience, but there's a lot of things we need to improve on, you know? We had a couple drops versus LSU. That's not acceptable. And so I want to pat them on the back, guys — but we're not there yet.”
Like any coach, Bedell wants more out of his players. But he’s starting 2022 from a way different position than when he arrived in 2021.