Aubserver Mailbag 117: How aggressive will Auburn be in the portal?
This week: Positions to watch, breakout picks, offensive pace, Devan Cambridge, international sporting events and gas pumps
(Austin Perryman/Auburn Athletics)
Welcome to the Transfer Portal Equinox.
The two sports we cover here at The Auburn Observer — football and men’s basketball — are heading into some crucial stretches of their respective offseasons this weekend.
Football adjusted its recruiting calendar very recently to move the second transfer portal window from May to the final half of April. That opens Saturday. Expect a lot of movement over the next two weeks because of it.
Meanwhile, basketball is in the midst of a massive transfer portal push, with big-name players either announcing their decisions to leave or adding themselves to new rosters every single day.
In basketball, reloading through the portal is basically a necessity each year. The rosters are smaller, and the players can leave for the pros at any time.
In football, you don’t want to have to rely on it too much — that’s just the nature of the sport and its development. But Auburn football doesn’t have a choice as it starts a new era with a lot of work to do on its roster.
Expect news for football in the transfer portal throughout this weekend, and don’t be surprised at all if you hear more about basketball, either. The good news is that, for Observer subscribers, we’ve got roster trackers for both sports that you can use to keep an eye on what’s going on this offseason.
With such a big time of the offseason ahead, the portal is the main topic of conversation in this week’s mailbag. We also tackle some other topics, such as offensive pace, more breakout candidates to watch in football, international sporting events and the grand opening of Buc-ee’s. Also, my music recommendation for the week is my favorite album of the year so far.
Thanks as always for your continued support of The Auburn Observer. Let’s go.
How aggressive do you think Auburn will be in this football transfer window? Without knowing who will be available, what positions do you think they will try to fill?
Let’s start with what the head coach himself said after the spring game last Saturday:
“I think the transfer portal opens soon, and we are open to any position that'll help us improve our team, as long as they fit within the culture. That includes the quarterback room. I know people make a big deal out of that, but the bottom line is… I think competition is helpful (for) those that handle it right. And for those that don't, they're probably not going to be the winners for you anyway.”
When it comes to the quarterback position, Freeze was quick to say that he thought Auburn could “win some games with what we have” but that he “would be open” to adding someone else via the transfer portal.
If there’s a quarterback who could realistically start for Auburn this fall — whether it’s a Group of Five starter looking to make the step up or a Power Five option wanting something else — I would expect the Tigers to go after said quarterback. Auburn doesn’t have to get someone for the sake of getting someone right now, because it has its 2023 and 2024 quarterbacks already lined up. To me, the goal first and foremost would be finding someone who can help you right now.
When it comes to other positions, I expect Auburn to push hard for a pass rusher, as Freeze didn’t veil his thoughts about the position this spring. Adding established talent to the wide receiver room, particularly on the outside, also makes a lot of sense. Freeze also said in February that he might be interested in adding another transfer offensive lineman, and you could make the argument for a potential starter at guard or someone to add experience to the tackle spots.
But I don’t think you can completely rule out any one position, based on Freeze’s comments throughout the offseason. Running back seems like the most likely to stay put at where it is. Everywhere else? You could see it. There’s going to be a desire to keep adding onto the roster, and the work the Tigers did in the first window should be even more reason to have a green light in the portal.
The one thing to keep in mind, though, is that Auburn looks like it’s near the 85-scholarship limit right now for the 2023 roster. So, if the Tigers want to add several players in this window, they’ll most likely have to have multiple guys exit.
Roster attrition is just a fact of life in this age of college football, and players will have a better understanding of where they stand after going through spring practices. While I don’t think Auburn is going to have the time or the space to get nearly as many transfers as they did in the bigger, earlier window, this should be a busy portal season.
With the portal opening tomorrow, what AU Position Group will have the most step in?