Malzahn sets sights on big OL class in 2020
AUBURN | Auburn will return its entire starting offensive line in 2019, all five of which are seniors. That’s should be a big positive for an offense that will have to break in a new starting quarterback.
But 2020 — that’s an entirely different matter. The Tigers have signed just nine offensive linemen in the last four classes combined including three in 2019, which makes the position a huge priority in 2020.
“You will see us probably sign the largest offensive line class we’ve done since I’ve been here with this class, and I think we’re already in a pretty good spot with 2020 going into this class,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
Auburn already has four commitment in the 2020 class, which includes two defensive linemen, a linebacker and a wide receiver. A quick look at the Rivals database shows Auburn offers to 30 offensive linemen in the 2020 class so far.
The Tigers signed just 21 total players in the 2019 class including five on Wednesday. Malzahn said he planned to save a few for any potential transfers, which could include offensive linemen. The Tigers have started several transfer offensive linemen under Malzahn including Austin Golson, Darius James, Casey Dunn and Jack Driscoll.
“The way I look at it with that is, if you can better your team—you know, a guy that can better your team, an impact player. I’m not ready to sit here and say, ‘Hey, this position, or that position,’ right now, but this day and time in college football, I think it’s really wise to hold onto a couple—like last year, you know, it worked out pretty good for us with Jack Driscoll,” Malzahn said.
Auburn did add Kamaar Bell to the class Wednesday, who projects as a center or guard, and signed Keiondre Jones and Justin Osborne in December. All three plan to enroll in May.
“Kamaar Bell — he was a priority,” Malzahn said. “We only signed two linemen the first signing period, and this is a guy who can play center, play guard. We think this guy has a chance to come in and help right off the way
“With the three guys that we have, the good thing is that all three of these guys, we feel like, are impact players.”
Looking at the projected roster, Auburn should have 14 scholarship offensive linemen — two were former defensive linemen — for the spring. Add three more signees in the summer and that number grows to 17 with six seniors, which would give the Tigers 11 going into 2020 without any attrition.
There's also the question of finding a future left tackle to replace Prince Tega Wanogho.
“I think right now if you look at our offensive line situation going into this next year, I feel very good about it,” Malzahn said. “And there’s some guys that are young that I think are going to be really good players too. I really don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about right now.
“You look nowadays, a lot of offensive linemen can come in and play early and that’s what we’ll be looking for in this 2020 class. I think it’s a positive because usually the elite guys want to come in and play early.”