Camp Diary: Competition Makes the Most of the Auburn WR Room


From: Greg Ostendorf

AUBURN, Alabama – Quarterback competition could be front and center for Auburn during fall camp, but the Tigers also need to figure out which wide receivers those quarterbacks will throw the ball on Sept. 3 when they open the season against Mercer.

A single return receiver, shedrick jackson, caught more than 20 assists last season. The fifth-year senior finished with 40 receptions for 527 yards in 2021.

But what the wide receiver room lacks in experience it makes up for in potential and pure numbers after the position was prioritized in the offseason. Between adding three real freshmen, two incoming transfers, and a job change, there are now plenty of options. It’s just a matter of finding the right guys to play this fall.

“It’s going pretty well,” Auburn receivers coach Ike Hilliard said. “It’s never as good as you want it to be as a coach, but we haven’t had to question the work or the effort put in. We still have to keep working on the details. That’s It’s a process for any player, no matter how many years you’ve been playing the ball.

“We have a relatively young group, and there’s a lot to learn there. It’s been an intriguing journey so far, and we’re looking forward to what lies ahead.”

Relatively young would be an understatement. Jackson is the only senior fellow in the position. Ze’Vian Capers, Ja’Varrius Johnson and Malcolm Johnson Jr. are the only juniors. The trio caught 31 passes combined last season. After that, it’s all freshmen and sophomores.

Two of the second year students, Koy Moore and Dazalin Worshamare new to Auburn after their transfer, and another, King Landenplayed tight end for the Tigers last season.

Among first-year students, Tar’Varish Dawson Jr. got a head start at camp because he wore a red shirt last season and was in the program for a year. The others, players like Camden Brown, jay fair and Omari Kelly, will be enjoying their first season of college football. All three, however, showed the ability to contribute early on if given the opportunity.

“I’ve been around young bands before,” Hilliard said. “They’re eager to learn, eager to get out. They’re also more prone to making mistakes if they don’t pay attention to details or concepts. But these kids work hard. They really do. C “It’s remarkable for me to witness the load these kids can carry and how they can run and run and run and run. And it’s great because you’re challenged when you’re tired.”

“I like the position of the receivers when it comes to work,” said the head coach Bryan Harsin said after practice on Tuesday. “We have a way to go. We need to catch the ball better. But in terms of the work, just the effort because they run so much, I think this group did a good job.”


‘It’s my time’

It’s hard to imagine cam riley afterwards. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, he stands out every time he walks into a room. But until he made his first start last year at the Birmingham Bowl, he was relegated to a linebacking linebacking role in his first two years at Auburn.

That’s what happens when you play Zakoby McClain, one of the SEC’s top tacklers in each of the past two seasons. McClain led the conference in tackles in 2020.

But with McClain’s move to the NFL, Riley is aiming for a full-time job this fall, and while it’s been tough at times as a backup, he thinks playing behind McClain will only help him in the long run.

“Everyone knows Zakoby is a legend,” Riley said. “He helped me throughout my time here. Sitting behind him, I learned a few things from him. It was just his style, the way he plays the game. He’s just different. I feel like I’m taking this time, the two years that I haven’t played as much as I wanted to, it’s helped me become more of a student of the game.”

“My time has come,” he added.

cam riley took the steps we really wanted him to take,” his position coach said, christian robinson said. “To be a guy who understands he’ll be there for us every game. Knowing he belongs in this league and should go and play at a high level. And I’m proud of the steps he’s taken.”


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