Sophomore offensive lineman Austin Golson, who played guard for Ole Miss last season and was projected to start at tackle in 2014, will officially transfer to Auburn as a walk-on.
Golson is from Prattville, Alabama and has hinted at the move throughout the winter in order to be closer to his sick grandparents. Though there has been no official word from Auburn, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said the following in a statement, according to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports:
"Austin Golson has informed us he has decided to move closer to his family and is choosing to walk on at Auburn, following normal transfer rules. We wish him the very best."
Golson didn't start as a true freshman last year, but he appeared in all 12 games as a reserve. According to Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger, he left the Grove Bowl (Ole Miss' spring game) atop the depth chart at right tackle, although JUCO signee Fahn Cooper was expected to push him for the position during fall camp.
Without Golson, Cooper is the favorite to start opposite sophomore left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Kellenberger also suggests that Golson could apply for a hardship waiver and be eligible to play in 2014, although it is more likely that he has to sit out a year, per NCAA transfer rules. In that case, he would have to pay his own way as a walk-on before joining the team in 2015, according to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:
It is hard to fault Golson for wanting to be near sick family members. If that is indeed the primary motivation for his transfer, there is no controversy. However, Steven Godfrey of SB Nation—the writer of "Meet the Bag Man," who has a pretty good grasp on the shady side of southeastern recruiting—is a skeptic of Golson's story:
So if you haven't followed Golson, it's the most LOLZ SEC story in ages...— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) May 12, 2014
1. 4-star OL commits to school one state over. Uncle wants him to transfer to a division rival, so sick grandparents suddenly become SICK— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) May 12, 2014
2. Kid tells Freeze he wants out, who tells him to search his heart or whatever. Malzahn says SRSLY DOG? and Freeze just lets him go.— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) May 12, 2014
3. Point is, the preacher man gimmick is gangbusters at the alumni meetings but a disaster behind closed doors.— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) May 12, 2014
Regardless of whom and what you believe, Golson will be joining the Auburn football program and should do well in Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee's offense, which makes good use of versatile blockers.
Golson was the No. 10 offensive tackle and No. 94 overall player on the 247Sports composite in 2013.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT