Auburn opens spring football camp on Tuesday, March 18 and will run it for roughly one month before closing shop on Saturday, April 19, according to Phil Steele of the college football preview magazine that bears his name.
At this time last year, first-year head coach Gus Malzahn was picking up the pieces of a program deflated, a group that had just gone 3-9 overall and 0-8 in SEC play and had been outscored 160-21 in its final three conference games.
This year, Malzahn leads a program that is coming off of an 11-1 regular season, an SEC championship and a shoulda-coulda-woulda-type loss against Florida State, 34-31, in the BCS National Championship Game.
A lot of things can change in a year.
Auburn returns most of its offense intact from last season, but the pieces it does lose—Heisman finalist Tre Mason and potential top-five NFL draft pick Greg Robinson—were important to say the least.
Defensively, some of the best players are gone from a unit that wasn't even all that good in the first place, leaving holes to be filled up and down the depth chart.
These systemic changes leave room for certain less experienced players to become factors on a team that's projected to contend for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
That journey starts with a good showing in March and April.