Auburn football offseason player, coach tracker: Who's leaving, returning, joining for 2021?
Offseason roster movement is all but a guarantee in college football. But this offseason has – and could continue to be – busier than ever for the Auburn Tigers.
Players have more freedom, too – they were all granted an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning seniors could return for another season. An NCAA rule that would allow players to transfer to other schools without sitting out a season is coming. Some underclassmen will leave for the NFL Draft, as they always do.
We will track all that movement in one place right here:
RETURNING: Defensive tackle Tyrone Truesdell and backup quarterback Grant Loy. Both will take advantage of the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted, the same way T.D. Moultry, Traivon Leonard and Devan Barrett have. Both are good pieces for the Tigers to have – Truesdell, a two-year starter, is the only defensive tackle on the roster with more than one year of experience at the FBS level. Loy is the only quarterback other than Bo Nix who has taken a college snap.
JOINING: Seven signees in a 2021 recruiting class that ranks 27th nationally. Eleven others signed in December. Six – defensive tackle Lee Hunter, safety Ahmari Harvey, quarterback Dematrius Davis, tight end Landen King, offensive lineman Garner Langlo and cornerback Kamal Hadden – have already enrolled and are going through offseason conditioning.
RETURNING: Devan Barrett, at his former position – running back. He was a four-star recruit there in 2017 before switching to wide receiver and then defensive back. He opted out midway through the 2020 campaign but is back to add needed depth in the backfield.
RETURNING: Reserve defensive back Traivon Leonard, who opted out of playing the 2020 season due to concerns over COVID-19. The senior hasn't played much during his Auburn career but could potentially provide depth in the secondary.
JOINING: Defensive end Eku Leota, a graduate transfer from Northwestern who totaled 6 1/2 sacks in two seasons with the Wildcats. He could provide immediate depth and production for the Tigers up front.
LEAVING: Tracy Rocker, less than two weeks after being announced as Auburn's defensive line coach. He has reportedly taken a job with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
JOINING: Nick Eason, as Rocker's replacement. The Lyons, Georgia, native and former Clemson standout took the job on Harsin's staff after two seasons with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals.
JOINING: Bert Watts as outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, officially completing Harsin's 10-man assistant coaching staff.
LEAVING: Reserve offensive lineman Kamaar Bell, who placed his name in the transfer portal. The former three-star recruit appeared in only one game over two seasons with the Tigers.
JOINING:Cornelius Williams, a former Hoover High and Troy standout who was named Auburn's wide receivers coach after spending the last six seasons in that role for the Trojans. He replaces Kodi Burns.
LEAVING: Safety Jamien Sherwood, who declared for the NFL Draft after three strong seasons on the Plains. He ranked third on the defense with 75 tackles as a junior in 2020, his first season as a starter.
JOINING: Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who is also returning after being an All-American for the Tigers and the 80s and coaching on Gene Chizik's staff from 2009-10. He replaces Rodney Garner.
RETURNING: Linebacker Chandler Wooten, who opted out of playing the 2020 campaign due to concerns about playing during the COVID-19 pandemic with a child on the way, announced that he was opting back in for 2021.
RETURNING: Top cornerback Roger McCreary, who was certainly a possibility to leave early for the NFL Draft, announced that was coming back to play his senior season and just as importantly – earn his degree. He, Nehemiah Pritchett, Jaylin Simpson and Marco Domio give new cornerbacks coach Zac Etheridge a strong group to work with in his first season.
JOINING: Brad Bedell, who spent the past four seasons coaching offensive line at Boise State, followed Harsin to Auburn as tight ends coach. He replaces Larry Porter.
LEAVING: Senior defensive linemen Big Kat Bryant and Daquan Newkirk announced that they planned to enter the transfer portal. Both have an extra year of eligibility remaining due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Update (Jan. 14): Newkirk committed to Florida.
Update: (Jan. 16): Bryant committed to Tennessee, where he will reunite with his former high school coach, Shelton Felton, as well as former Auburn defnensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
JOINING: Jeff Schmedding, who served as Boise State's defensive coordinator the past two seasons, is following Harsin to serve as inside linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator.
LEAVING: Senior safety Jordyn Peters, who will enter the NFL Draft rather exercise his right to return for an extra year of eligibility. He was a key piece for Auburn's defense the past few seasons but, more importantly, an absolute star when it came to blocking punts.
LEAVING: Running back D.J. Williams placed his name in the transfer portal. He's the third running back to leave the program since October, following Harold Joiner and Mark-Antony Richards. Tank Bigsby and Shaun Shivers are the only scholarship running backs currently on the roster.
Update (Jan. 9): Williams committed to Florida State.
NOT COMING: Oklahoma tight end transfer Grant Calcaterra, who signed in December, but said when he did that he would talk to the new coaching staff before deciding whether he would suit up for the Tigers in 2021. He will attend SMU instea
RETURNING: Running backs coach Cadillac Williams.
JOINING: Zac Etheridge as cornerbacks coach, who is technically returning, too – he was a four-year standout for the Tigers from 2007-10, serving as at starting safety and team captain during the national championship run. He spent the last two seasons at Houston. He replaces Wesley McGriff, who took the same job at Florida.
RETURNING: Linebacker Zakoby McClain, who led the Tigers with 113 tackles to go along with 5 1/2 tackles for loss and three sacks during a breakout junior season – his first as a starter.
JOINING: Three new assistant coaches:
- Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who spent the 2020 season at South Carolina. He replaces Chad Morris.
- Defensive coordinator Derek Mason, the longtime former Vanderbilt coach. He replaces Kevin Steele.
- Offensive line coach Will Friend, who followed Bobo to the Plains after three seasons at Tennessee. He replaces Jack Bicknell Jr.
LEAVING: Defensive back Christian Tutt, it appears. Auburn's starter at nickelback the last two seasons hasn't made a formal announcement, but he signed with an agency and began an NFL Draft training program at EXOS, per Instagram.
Update (Jan. 15): Tutt placed his name in NCAA transfer portal on Tuesday and took it out sometime after. It is unclear what his future plans are.
RETURNING: Second-team All-SEC safety Smoke Monday. He ranked fourth on the team with 73 tackles and also chipped in three pass breakups, two interceptions (one of which he returned for a 100-yard touchdown) and a forced fumble in his first season as a starter.
LEAVING: Fifth-year senior wide receiver Eli Stove announced that he will not take advantage of an opportunity to return for a sixth season of eligibility and instead turn his attention to the NFL Draft. The reliable veteran finished his career with 136 catches for 1,186 yards and six touchdowns.
JOINING: Jeff Pitman, who followed Harsin from Boise State and was named Auburn's head of football strength and conditioning. He replaces Ryan Russell, who served in that role all eight seasons under Malzahn.
LEAVING: Reserve quarterback Cord Sandberg. The 26-year-old former minor league baseball player entered the transfer portal after appearing in just four games over three seasons at Auburn.
LEAVING: Wide receiver Seth Williams joined his teammate in deciding to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. He finishes his Auburn career with 132 catches, 2,124 yards and 17 receiving touchdowns in three seasons, totals which rank sixth, fourth and tied for third in program history, respectively.
LEAVING:Wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, no doubt Auburn's fastest weapon on offense, became the first underclassman to declare for the NFL Draft. He led the Tigers with 54 receptions as a junior, which he turned into 636 yards and three touchdowns
JOINING: Brad Larrondo, who was an associate athletics director and the chief of staff for football at Boise State during Harsin's tenure. Auburn hasn't officially announced the hire, but he's updated his Twitter bio to show that he'll serve in the same role on the Plains. He's one of a number of off-field support staffers Harsin has or will add.
Former four-star defensive tackle Coynis Miller Jr., who parted ways with the program during preseason practice, announced his commitment to play for Deion Sanders at Jackson State in Mississippi.
- Running back Mark-Antony Richards entered the transfer portal.
- Former running back Harold Joiner committed to Michigan State.
- Former wide receiver-turned-defensive backs Matthew Hill signed with USF.
- Senior linebacker K.J. Britt announced his Auburn career was over and that he would enter the NFL Draft.