Auburn Football 2009: Breakin' Down The Backs!

Ryan WilliamsContributor IApril 7, 2009

Greetings Bleacher Report readers, I haven’t spoken with you in a while.

Maintaining a 4.0 GPA and playing sports have kept me in a bind.

Alas, have no fear; I have decided to make a triumphant return to this extraordinary writing community by breaking down the Auburn positions one-by-one.

Since Auburn is frequently referred to as "Running Back U", I decided that it would be fitting to start out with breaking down the depth at the position.

Below, I will list every RB on the roster according to rivals.com, separating the contenders from the pretenders.

Alright, so we have a pretty decent stable of backs for the 2009 season:

Contenders:

·         Ben Tate SR #44

·         Mario Fannin JR #27

·         Onterio McCalebb FR #23

·         Justin Albert RS FR #40

·         Eric Smith SO #32

 

Pretenders:

·         Michael Alexander SO #21

·         John Douglas SO #30

·         Michael Gibson JR #36

·         Davis Hooper SO #45 

 

Key Departure(s):

·         Brad Lester #1

 

There happen to be several running backs in the mix for playing time this year.

Ben Tate had been the starter for the Auburn Tigers for half of the 2007-08 season as Brad Lester was riding the bench with an academic suspension.

No single running back had stood out very much last year. Brad Lester, Ben Tate, and Mario Fannin split most of the time.

Mario Fannin had a superb performance against Georgia and showed that he has the ability to be the x-factor for the Auburn Tigers.

Ben Tate, however, rolled over Vandy running the same exact play over and over at the start of the game, showing that he could be a workhorse for the Tigers.

The one thing I thought he lacked was speed—he couldn't run a great sweep play if his life depended on it.

Contradictory to my prior statement, I have heard claims that Ben Tate recently ran a 4.40 time, ranking him as one of the faster Auburn football players.

New faces participating in spring practice this year include Onterio McCalebb and walk-on Justin Albert.

Both freshmen have reportedly impressed.

Onterio McCalebbhas the ideal speed of a freshman phenom running back, already acknowledged as one of the fastest if not the fastest Tiger.

He was rated a 6.0 by rivals.com, 6.1 being the highest possible rating.

As shown from highlights on YouTube, he has the vision, power, and breakaway speed to create plays that shouldn't exist.

That being said, he may not be getting many touches his freshman year in Division I-A football.

Walk-on redshirted freshman Justin Albert has been deemed "impressive" by many.

After watching his highlights with Prattville in 2006, I have a new found respect for him.

If he can transfer his agile cuts, spins, and jukes to college football, along with his excellent vision, speed, and power, he'll be a super player. This kid is the total package.

Eric Smith has been seldom used, but I recall him coming into a game where we had the lead and he was used as a clock grinder.

I was very impressed by his power and moves while he was in, and let me tell you, his highlight reel on YouTube was spectacular.

Summary:

All in all we are set with running backs. 

These guys can provide us with speed, power, or anything else we call upon them for. 

If Gus Malzahn and Curtis Luper do what they normally do with players—utilize their strengths and abilities—you can expect a solid, consistent performance coming out of the backfield this year.

They weren't very consistent this past season and I'll explain why in an upcoming article, talking about the woes of the underweight offensive line of 2008 and what to expect from them in 2009.

 

 

 

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