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March 13, 2014

The Top 20


AUBURN | The Bunker has spoken.

After two rounds of voting that stretched across six weeks, it's time for AuburnSports.com to unveil its choices for the Tigers' top 20 players of the 2013 season. Voters were given a pool of 28 players and asked to rank them, in ascending order, from first to 20th. In all, 1,772 votes were cast.

Here are the results:

AuburnSports.com's Top 20 of 2013
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Tre Mason
Running Back
5-10, 210 pounds
Mason was named the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year both by league coaches and the Associated Press. It's no wonder after he broke Bo Jackson's single-season rushing record with 1,816 yards and 23 touchdowns. Those numbers are made even more spectacular when you consider he didn't become the No. 1 option until the season's third game. A Heisman finalist; an epic campaign. First place votes: 1,143


Greg Robinson
Offensive Tackle
6-5, 320 pounds
Robinson's second season with the varsity led him directly to the first round of the NFL. After a shaky start, which ended with a below-average performance against LSU, Robinson quickly emerged as a dominating element of the Tigers' overpowering run game. He stopped lunging and began moving with the ends and tackles who tried to subdue him. Robinson rarely lost -- and that was a big reason why Auburn's offense became such a threat. First place votes: 303


Nick Marshall
6-1, 210 pounds
Marshall arrived at Auburn last summer as an anomaly. After playing cornerback at Georgia, Marshall had just one junior college season at quarterback to his credit. Still, he is a gifted runner and Auburn found ways to accentuate that skill while concurrently making the most of his unrefined passing abilities. Marshall rushed for 1,068 yards and was intercepted just six times in 239 attempts. Efficient and effective. First place votes: 237


Dee Ford
Defensive End
6-2, 240 pounds
Ford overcame a partially torn knee ligament suffered during two-a-days to become a nasty pass-rushing element that provided bite to the Tigers' defense. He finished with 10.5 sacks, second-best among SEC defenders, and made 29 tackles overall. His quiet determination provided a consistent source of inspiration off the field as well. Ford was named first-team All-SEC by both coaches and the AP. First place votes: 66


Reese Dismukes
6-3, 297 pounds
Dismukes once again put in a full season of strong work at center, where he's been since starting as a true freshman to open the 2011 season. He turned a major corner prior to 2013 spring drills and began taking his role as a leader much more seriously. That remained a theme throughout the fall as well. Auburn has a talented, tough player who has emerged as a leader and tone-setter. Successful teams need guys like this -- and the Tigers will be better from having Dismukes around for another year.


Chris Davis
5-11, 200 pounds
Davis has been a really good player for a long time now, though injuries were a limiting factor in 2011 and 2012. The senior remained on the field throughout the 2013 season and emerged as a top-tier player, earning second-team All-SEC honors. He finished second on the team with 74 tackles. He'll remain a celebrity for the rest of his life because of the Kick Six. He's now the Franco Harris of college football.


Sammie Coates
6-2, 215 pounds
Coates finally learned to apply his remarkable physical gifts to what actually occurs on the football field last fall. He spent most of the season leading all NCAA receivers in yards per catch because, well, he's the quintessential deep threat. He doesn't just jump; he soars. Few defenders can keep up with him. Coates finished with 42 catches for 902 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2013 season. Even when he's not catching balls, he's affecting the defense in profound ways.


Jay Prosch
6-0, 258 pounds
Prosch was the punishment behind Auburn's powerful run game. He started slowly in September while becoming acclimated to the nuances of Auburn's new offense, but came into his own during the Ole Miss game. From that point forward, Prosch was a wrecking ball that cleared lanes all over the field. He even blocked two defenders concurrently during Nick Marshall's long run at Arkansas. His boundless energy and positive attitude made a difference along the sideline as well. First place votes: 5


Robenson Therezie
Star safety
5-10, 205 pounds
Therezie was supposed to serve as Justin Garrett's backup, but a pair of broken bones ultimately ended Garrett's season before it began. Therezie turned out to be a fine fit at star, where he led the team in interceptions (4) and finished sixth with 57 tackles. He did exactly what Ellis Johnson wanted: Provided solid coverage on inside receivers and meaningful run support when needed. It's difficult to find guys who can handle both jobs, but Therezie's skill set worked well in that role.


Steven Clark
6-5, 230 pounds
Clark was one of the nation's best punters during each of his final three college seasons. He finished with a 42.6-yard average per punt in 2013, which was just average on an NCAA scale, but the Tigers finished 9th in net punting. Many punters are allowed to fire away at will. Clark was asked to put the receiving team in compromised positions, which gave Auburn a pronounced advantage. Underrated player outside of Auburn circles.


Gabe Wright
Defensive Tackle
6-3, 296 pounds
Wright was a huge recruit in 2011, but didn't accomplish much during his first two college seasons. The arrival of Rodney Garner and his tough-love approach really resonated with Wright, who pieced together a very strong junior campaign. He finished with 8.5 tackles for loss, tops among Auburn tackles, and did a nice job against the run as well. Probably was the Tigers' most improved player, which is a huge credit to his re-stoked work ethic. Big-time turnaround.


Carl Lawson
Defensive End
6-2, 258 pounds
Lawson's first college season couldn't have followed a more optimistic track. He broke out with a five-tackle effort against Ole Miss, which ended with his bizarre dance after a late-game sack, and remained a useful defender from that point forward. Lawson was more of a pass-rush specialist in 2014, but it's clear that he can be a multipurpose end moving forward. The 'high motor' we all heard about in high school isn't a myth; Lawson played hard every second.


Cassanova McKinzy
6-3, 246 pounds
McKinzy was a low-profile guy during the preseason while being overshadowed by defensive linemen and defensive backs. Still, the sophomore from Woodlawn High led Auburn in tackles (75) and provided a lot of run-stop panache to the Tigers' defense. He's truly fearless when it comes to attacking someone cradling a football. Could this be the bone crusher Auburn has needed?


Alex Kozan
R. Freshman
6-4, 297 pounds
Kozan had to fight for a spot during two-a-days, but took control at left guard in late August and never looked back. Kozan isn't the most physically gifted lineman, but he's next level when it comes to understanding his responsibility during each snap. He restructured his body while redshirting in 2012 and became quick enough to make those pull blocks that are part of Auburn's DNA. Looks like someone who will starting for a long time.


Avery Young
R. Freshman
6-6, 304 pounds
Young was a bit of an unknown coming into his first full varsity season. A shoulder injury ended his 2012 season after three games. Patrick Miller was a formidable obstacle, too. Miller started the first five games of the 2013 season as well, but was suspended prior to the Western Carolina game. Young took over at right tackle and locked down the position during the season's final three months. Young performed well, too, and now looks like a long-term solution at that spot.


Cody Parkey
6-0, 190 pounds
Parkey ended his third season as Auburn's primary field-goal kicker with a 15-of-21 season. He connected on some long kicks -- including a pair of 40+ kicks against Washington State -- but missed an important, 33-yard kick against Florida State. Also, 69 of his 98 kickoffs went for a touchback. It was a fine season for a fine kicker. His work was especially valuable early in the season when the Tigers' offense still was consolidating itself.


Nosa Eguae
Defensive Line
6-3, 269 pounds
Eguae's final college season didn't go as planned. He wasn't making much of a push for playing time at end, so he agreed to move inside and used his quickness to beat guards and tackles. The plan worked. He made 12 starts and finished with 5.5 tackles for loss. Eguae's sage leadership also played a role in the team remaining so focused from start to finish. A truly selfless player.


Jonathon Mincy
5-10, 200 pounds
Mincy was put into some tough situations as opponents decided to throw away from Chris Davis in October and November. That meant Mincy was in the spotlight more than ever before. Though he suffered a few missteps, Mincy weathered the storm and remained a productive defender. He started all 14 games and finished with 56 tackles. He intercepted one pass. A solid player.


Corey Grant
5-11, 205 pounds
Grant is a seriously patient young man. He didn't get much of an opportunity at Alabama, so he transferred to Auburn. Then he found himself playing behind Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne. The good news is that Grant carved out a nice niche in 2013 as a speed back -- and averaged 9.8 yards per carry in that role. He scored six touchdowns on 66 carries. Talk about efficient. Grant probably doesn't have the cutback ability to be a featured back, but he's a terror when deployed as he was last season. Expect that to continue.


Ricardo Louis
6-2, 215 pounds
Louis enjoyed a revitalization of sorts in 2013, getting some legitimate chances to shine. He took advantage to the tune of 28 receptions for 325 yards. (Both figures were second-best behind Coates.) Of course, his shining moment was the sublime, fourth-down touchdown catch against Georgia that set the stage for a big win. That was the only game in which he went for more than 53 receiving yards, but there's something to be said for making big plays in the biggest moments.

Next in line: TE C.J. Uzomah, DT Montravius Adams, S Jermaine Whitehead, LB Kris Frost, S Ryan Smith

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