Do the Auburn Tigers Still Have Depth Problems at Linebacker?

Kevin McGradySenior Writer IJune 19, 2010

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Daren Bates #25 and Josh Bynes #17 of the Auburn Tigers celebrate Bynes interception in the final minutes of their 41-30 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

During the 2009 football season Auburn fans cringed with every hit the linebackers made. Depth was such an issue that there were no backups in some games. This is not the case in 2010.

Coach Ted Roof has a full complement of linebackers for the 2010 season.   The unit has literally transformed from an injury-depleted group that sought to survive, to a unit full of potential. Auburn fans can expect improvement from this unit in 2010.

The team is deep at linebacker and has a good mixture of experience. This unit has the potential to be a strong asset to the team if some of the underclassmen can develop this fall.

Fans can expect to see some new names on the field in 2010. The freshman class has some of the best in the nation at linebacker. Many of them will be pushing for playing time in 2010.

Josh Bynes was a highly-recruited linebacker coming into Auburn. He has lived up to the high expectations. He had a solid junior year in 2009. He will be tough to beat at middle linebacker in 2010. He is a senior in 2010.

Jonathan Evans was asked to produce as a true freshman in 2009. He wasn’t a highly-recruited outside linebacker, but proved his ability to play. He has improved through the spring and will get a lot of playing time in 2010.

Craig Stevens was another highly-recruited linebacker coming into Auburn. He has met everyone’s expectations and played well. He had a very solid year in 2009 and looks to improve on that in 2010. He is a senior in 2010.

ElToro Freeman was highly recruited out of high school. He came to Auburn in 2009 after spending one year in junior college. His production in 2009 was hampered by nagging injuries. He has played both outside and inside linebacker. He is a junior in 2010.

Harris Gaston was recruited as an outside linebacker. He was set to play in his freshman season when injuries forced him to redshirt. He has recovered and is expected to play in 2010.

Jessel Curry is a true freshman that enrolled early to attend spring practice. He was recruited as an outside linebacker. He has improved this spring and will try to earn some playing time.

Ladarius Owens was recruited as an outside linebacker. Many analysts have him ranked among the best newcomers to the SEC at his position in 2010. With hard work he is expected to see early playing time.

Jake Holland was recruited as an inside linebacker. Analysts have ranked him among the best newcomers to the SEC at his position in 2010. His hard work should result in early playing time.

Jawara White was recruited as an outside linebacker. He will have to work hard for playing time this fall.

Daren Bates was an All-SEC performer at safety in 2009. He will move to the linebacker/safety hybrid position in 2010 that so many defenses employ against spread offenses. 

The biggest difference this strong group of underclassmen could make is on special team’s coverage. While depth did hurt the starting defensive unit in 2010, it killed the coverage units.

Many times in 2009 Auburn was better off kicking out of bounds and spotting the opponent on the 40-yard line. This added depth should change that for 2010.