Auburn Football 2011: New Faces and High Expectations on the Plains

Kevin McGradySenior Writer IMarch 23, 2011

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Neiko Thorpe #15 of the Auburn Tigers against the Clemson Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 is the first day of spring practice for the BCS Champion Auburn Tigers. The team has a slew of positions to fill and the beginning of that process will start today.


Predicted positions of concern

Middle Linebacker: Jake Holland, Harris Gaston and LaDarius Owens are a few of the contenders for this important position. Auburn should end the spring with a front-runner at this position.  

Defensive Tackle: The faces at this position will be familiar for 2011 with Derrick Lykes, Jamar Travis, Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter all ready to compete for the starting roles. Progression at this position could be the single most important factor in a strong 2011 Auburn rush defense.


Positions to watch

Outside Linebacker: With ElToro Freeman and Daren Bates returning, it will be difficult for younger players to break the lineup, but there is enough talent that these positions are up for grabs.

Quarterback: This position is very solid with backup quarterback Barrett Trotter returning, but fans can expect Clint Moseley to push him very hard. Fierce competitions will likely lead to strong performance from this position in 2011.

Offensive Line: Auburn is so deep in every offensive line position; fans can expect a very solid performance in 2011. The fierce competition for starting roles could lead to a very good unit this season.

Fullback: It is official; Ladarious Phillips, number 37 is the front-runner for this position. He is 6’0” and close to 300 pounds. He does standing back flips and runs the forty at a similar speed to that of Eric Smith that held the position in 2010. Many Auburn fans have been waiting to see him after late fall injuries forced a red shirt in 2010.

Safety: Neiko Thorpe is moving to safety this spring and this should be a master stroke for the Auburn staff. He was always solid in zone schemes when at corner and these skills should serve him well at safety.

While no one believes that the 2011 version of the Auburn Tigers is currently good enough to repeat their 14-0 performance of 2010, the 2011 squad will be one of the most talented in Auburn history. The 2011 Auburn Tigers should be a very solid and formidable team.

The Auburn Tigers begin spring practice in a very solid position and seem to be ahead of where they started in 2010 or 2009. It will take a lot of hard work and attention to detail, but this team is loaded with potential for the upcoming season.