Auburn football has established talent, exciting potential at linebacker

Auburn football will return to action next week with the start of spring practices on March 1. Between now and then, SEC Country will preview each of the Tigers’ position groups heading into camp. Up next, we move to the linebackers.

Auburn linebacker depth charts

Middle linebacker

  • Deshaun Davis (Senior)
  • K.J. Britt (Sophomore)

Strongside linebacker

  • Darrell Williams (Senior)
  • Chandler Wooten (Sophomore)

Weakside linebacker 

  • Montavious Atkinson (Senior)
  • Richard McBryde (Junior)

D epartures, arrivals

  • Departures: Tre’ Williams
  • Arrivals: Josh Marsh (early enrollee), Michael Harris and Zakoby McClain (summer enrollees)
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Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams has a balanced, exciting group on his hands for 2018. (Sarah Lundgren/SEC Country)

The question

How will Auburn balance repping the vets vs. getting next wave ready?

Auburn returned three starters at linebacker last season, and it made a huge difference in Kevin Steele’s defense. This season, the Tigers return two of them — Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams — along with Montavious Atkinson, who got nearly as many snaps as departed senior Tre’ Williams. Simply put, Auburn knows exactly what it has at linebacker for 2018.

All three of those players will be gone after 2018, though. Linebackers coach Travis Williams has recruited well at the position, picking up K.J. Britt and Chandler Wooten in 2017 and another trio in 2018. Spring and fall practices will be crucial for these players, as they’ll most likely sit behind the veterans in most games this season.

SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEWS:  QB | RB | WR | HB/TE | OT | G/C | DE | DT

Auburn will have an interesting balancing act on its hands in the offseason. Britt, Wooten and Richard McBryde will push for playing time behind the seniors, who will be the heartbeat of the defense in 2018. The Tigers should have time to develop a strong rotation for now and the future during spring ball.

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Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis has been a leading man for the Tigers defense the last two seasons. (Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics)

The star

Deshaun Davis

Davis has come a long way from the linebacker who barely played in three straight seasons — he missed his senior season of high school with a knee injury, redshirted, and was a special teams reserve in 2015. That changed in 2016 when he became the vocal and strategic leader of the Auburn defense. Having Davis back for his senior season should be huge for the Tigers.

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K.J Britt (left) and Chandler Wooten (right) got in-game experience as freshmen. (Justin Ferguson/SEC Country)

The wild cards

K.J. Britt and Chandler Wooten

Auburn’s young linebacker duo immediately contributed as freshmen in 2017 while fellow class member T.D. Moultry made the move to Buck defensive end. Britt and Wooten have the look of the next great linebacker duo at Auburn. Britt is the future “quarterback” behind Davis in the middle, while Wooten is the all-around threat who Auburn can use in a variety of ways on the outside. But how much playing time will they earn in 2018 behind some senior stars?

The prediction

Richard McBryde makes Auburn fans remember his name with a strong camp.

Last year, Atkinson broke out in preseason practices when Travis Williams called him his “fourth starter.” McBryde is in a similar spot — he hasn’t been used much in his first couple of seasons on the Plains, but the athletic talent is there. With Britt and Wooten lining up behind established starters, this is a perfect time for McBryde to take a step forward and show he can be that leader in 2019.

The stat

6. This will be the sixth straight season in which Auburn football returns its leading tackler. Deshaun Davis is that guy for Auburn, as he led with a whopping 82 tackles last season. The next-closest player had 59. The last time Auburn didn’t return its leading tackler was 2013, as Daren Bates was the top man in 2012.

The quote

Auburn linebacker Darrell Williams on the 2017 season:

“I just feel like, you know, Auburn, the type of foundation we’re built on, nothing is ever going to be given to us. We showed that this year. Everybody counted us out multiple times. We just showed we fight at Auburn. We’re built differently. We’re just going to keep fighting, no matter what you say about us. We’re just going to keep going. We definitely showed that this year. I think a lot more people should respect us. At Auburn, you can’t count on that respect. You’ve got to earn it and make people respect you.”

The post Auburn football has established talent, exciting potential at linebacker appeared first on SEC Country.

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