AUBURN - There's little question junior Chris Davis will start at one cornerback when Auburn opens its season against Clemson on Sept. 1, but there's serious competition on the other side and at nickel back.
Chris Davis appears a lock to start at cornerback
Davis, senior T'Sharvan Bell and sophomore Jonathon Mincy are working at cornerback and nickel. Junior Ryan White and sophomore Robenson Therezie are working only at corner. In the last scrimmage, Davis and White were the starting cornerbacks and Bell the starting nickel back.
The competition, Bell said after Tuesday's practice has changed everything.
"It's a lot different," Bell said. "Last year you could just lay back and know you had a starting job. Maybe you didn't work as hard at the little detail things. Can't do that now."
True freshman cornerback Jonathan Jones has put himself in position to possibly earn playing time in the season-opener against Clemson. With world-class speed, he's getting a big look on special teams.
The biggest challenge, Jones said, has been leaning coordinator Brian VanGorder's defense.
"Definitely the defensive scheme itself," Jones said. "You have to learn what linebackers do, the safeties, not just your own position. It's more of a scheme and you have to learn where you fit in with the defense."
After leading 21-7, Auburn faded in the second half and lost 38-24 at Clemson last season. But senior linebacker Daren Bates says he and his teammates won't have revenge on their minds in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.
"We just want to win," Bates said. "It could be Florida, LSU or whatever team. We are going to play with an edge and play with a chip on our shoulder because we want to win. That's what we come to do every day in practice."
Wide receiver JaQuay Williams and tight end Darrion Hutcherson, Auburn signees, have not been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center and are running out of time.
"We are really coming down to the wire," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said, "and some decisions will have to be made very shortly."
Junior defensive tackle Ken Carter said it isn't important who starts against Clemson. At least five defensive tackles are likely to play.
"Nah, it doesn't matter," Carter said. "Everyone is going to get their reps. Starter is just a title."