Auburn Football: How Will Tigers Replace Their Senior Offensive Line for 2011?

Kevin McGradySenior Writer IDecember 12, 2010

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 6:  Offensive lineman Lee Ziemba #73 of the Auburn Tigers checks the scoreboard during play against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6, 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Recruiting the right players is the backbone of any successful team. A player with a high recruiting service ranking will fail every time when put into a system where their individual skills or personality do not mesh with the team. There are five star recruits on scout teams all across the country more at some places than others.

Many of the best recruiting teams in the nation are also the least productive in what they get out of that recruited talent. A great offensive player should go to a great offensive team with an immediate need for their particular set of skills.

The same can be said of a defensive player, but not to the same extent. A great defensive player can usually find success on any team. They can enhance their chances for success by going into a system that uses a base defensive set more adapted to their physical ability.

Auburn University will have some recruiting needs this year. There are some really good players that will leave this year or after next year. It is now time to take a look at some players that are leaving soon and what Gene Chizik and staff are attempting to do to replace them.

The big guys up front on offense and defense are what make any team great. If a team can not hold their own up front they stand little chance of success. This is doubly true of the 2010 Auburn Tigers.

Offensive Line Projected Losses

Lee Ziemba at left tackle will be moving on to the NFL. He set the Auburn team record for starts in a career and was the best offensive lineman on either team in most games during those starts.

The top candidate to replace him is Brandon Mosley, the junior starter at right tackle who has played lights out this season. AJ Greene is another junior prospect for this position. He had won the starting right tackle position in 2010 until a broken leg set him back early on. It is likely that these two players will contend strongly for the starting tackle positions.

John Sullen is a sophomore that has played at both guard and tackle extensively. He will certainly contend for a starting spot at guard or tackle in 2011.

Mike Berry and his backup Bart Eddins at left guard will be moving on this year. Berry has a good chance of playing on Sunday next season. Both of these players contributed in a big way in 2010. Jared Cooper and John Sullen are the only two experienced players that could contend for this slot.

Byron Isom will be missed in 2011. He has been a capable and steady producer at right guard for years. Jared Cooper and John Sullen are the only two experienced players who could contend for this slot as well.

Ryan Pugh has been nothing less than exceptional at center for Auburn. He will be missed in 2011. Blake Burgess his backup has built up considerable experience this year and will contend heavily for this open starting slot in 2011.

As Auburn fans can see, there will be five good players with experience on the offensive line in 2011. The problem is that five is not enough in the Malzahn system. Auburn needs to maintain at least two deep at every offensive line position to achieve the tempo that Coach Malzahn wants to achieve.

Players like Ed Christian, Tunde Fariyike, Eric Mack and Chad Slade all redshirted in 2010 to work on their technique and strength and conditioning to allow them to contribute in 2011.

Future Depth

The Auburn coaching staff has attempted to accumulate a group of incoming freshmen that will be ready to contribute right away. While this does not always work out, it is a fair assumption that some of the new recruits will be able to come in and contribute.

Following are all members currently committed to become part of the 2011 Auburn freshman class.

Reese Dismukes is one of the top prep centers in the 2011 national recruiting class.

Thomas O'Reilly is one of the top prep offensive guards of the 2011 national class.

Gregory Robinson is another of the top prep offensive guards of the 2011 national class.

Shon Coleman was part of the 2010 class that was unable to start school this year due to a battle with cancer. He has responded well to treatment and is expected to spend 2011 rehabilitating his physical attributes in hope of contributing in 2012.

Considering Auburn for 2011

Jacob Fahrenkrug a junior college prospect who is highly rated by analyst.

Xzavier Ward a highly regarded prep prospect.

With Brandon Mosley, AJ Greene, John Sullen, Blake Burgess, and Jared Cooper returning for 2011, Auburn will have some very good experience to draw off of to reassemble the offensive line. As is the case with most major college teams, Auburn will not have a lot of experience on the two deep. Overall the 2011 Auburn offensive line will have more talent to draw from than at any time in recent years.

Even with so much talent available, there will be severe loss in experience. It is unreasonable to expect the Auburn offensive line to be as proficient in 2011 as it has been in 2010. If these players work hard, it could be very close.

Auburn will have one of the most powerful offensive lines in the SEC for 2011 once again. This is one area where the 2011 line could well be better than the 2010 version.  


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