Which true freshman is most likely to play?

AUBURN — One of the most common questions this time of year for older college football players is more of a prompt: Which young guys on the team are making the strongest impressions in practice?

Two days into Auburn football’s 2022 preseason practices, the purely observational answer to that question matches the name senior Shedrick Jackson offered.

“I would say Camden Brown,” Jackson said. “Big dude. Strong, too. He (lifted), like, 225. I can’t remember how many reps. He did a lot, so that’s a strong dude.”

Brown is a freshman receiver. He was only deemed a three-star recruit, but to Jackson’s point about size, Brown is a bulky 6-foot-3, 202 pounds in a receiver room of shorter players.

Brown practiced in Auburn’s evening “rookie” session Friday – the split sessions are designed to increase reps for everyone. On an out route drill, he was matched up against older juco newcomer Keionte Scott, who plastered Brown in coverage. But the receiver made a remarkable catch and held on as he tumbled out of bounds with Scott wrapping him up, earning applause from coaches: “Way to get physical, 17!”

Physicality is certainly an attribute Auburn’s receiver room is otherwise lacking.

The next day, Auburn had split sessions again. This time, Brown practiced with the older players in the morning.

He played with Zach Calzada’s second-team offense in a seven-on-seven period, joined at receiver by LSU transfer Koy Moore and (alternating in the third spot) Ja’Varrius Johnson and Tar’Varish Dawson.

Johnson and Dawson are both 5-10, the opposite of Brown’s mold of receiver, but Johnson is the room’s second-most experienced receiver. And Dawson, for what it’s worth, also continues to earn praise as the offense’s most improved player this offseason.

The receivers worked on footwork, agility and quick-twitch drills on the snap Saturday.

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Receiver sweeps

Auburn also worked on running a reverse. Moore, Dawson and Malcolm Johnson Jr. were the three receivers who lined up on the boundary and received handoffs for sweeps. Emphasis was on timing the pre-snap motion.

Offensive line shuffling

Senior Alec Jackson is playing some right guard. He’s in a position battle with Austin Troxell for the starting right tackle job (last year they competed at left tackle), but offensive line coach Will Friend prefers to cross-train his players for the sake of flexibility. Junior Keiondre Jones is expected to start at right guard, and he might be the best player on the line, but depth behind him is lacking.

Left guard Brandon Council also moved inside to take a few reps at center.

More quarterback notes

Ashford and freshman Holden Geriner made their Auburn preseason practice debuts Friday night. Coach Bryan Harsin was working closely with them as they threw to running backs (including freshman Damari Alston, a four-star recruit).

Ashford looked a bit sharper and more consistent on short passes out of the backfield and over the middle. But he struggled with his deep ball. Geriner put two throws on the money during one-on-one downfield drills.

Early assessment:

If Harsin wants to implement more downfield passing this year, Calzada stands out vs. Finley and Ashford.

On Saturday morning, Finley continued taking first-team reps. He and Calzada worked on moving to their left and throwing to tight ends in motion.

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