It happens almost every season on any team that is successful. Players who have waited their turns make the most of their chances when they finally come.
Senior linebacker Eltoro Freeman
If Auburn is to surprise the pundits in defending its 2010 national championship, more than one veteran will have to take their games to another level. Here are 11 candidates, all juniors or seniors, who could make big moves:
Junior DE Dee Ford: Few Auburn players have developed more physically in their time at Auburn than Ford. He’s grown from a “tweener” to physical player with size, speed and strength.
Senior OG Jared Cooper: Cooper has been a loyal soldier, redshirting as a freshman and playing backup roles for the past three seasons. He’s a powerful and intelligent guy whose work ethic has earned respect of teammates and coaches.
Junior QB Barrett Trotter: It remains to be seen if Trotter can hold off sophomore Clint Moseley, but he has his best opportunity to be the starter.
Senior LB Eltoro Freeman: Freeman arrived from Gulf Coast Community College in 2009 with much fanfare. He has had flashes of brilliance, but he’s spent more time in the coaches’ doghouse than in the starting lineup. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof says he is a new man on and off the field.
Junior RB Anthony Morgan: Morgan has played receiver and cornerback and just a handful of snaps at running back. One of the faster players on the team, he has the size and speed to make a major contribution.
Junior WR DeAngelo Benton: Benton has had two major problems in his first two seasons at Auburn – injuries and Darvin Adams. It seems every time he’s made a move, an injury has knocked him back. And he was behind one of the more consistent and clutch receivers in recent Auburn history.
Senior WR Quindarius Carr: Carr has been a role player the past two seasons, used mostly on deep balls. He’ll get his chance to show he can be an every-down player.
Junior OG John Sullen: Sullen has been on the verge of significant playing time the past two seasons. One of the starting guard positions is his to lose.
Junior LB Jonathan Evans: Called on as a true freshman late in 2009, Evans held his own. He was a reliable backup last season. He could be more this season.
Junior S Ikeem Means: A walk-on, Means played in every game last season, mostly on special teams. He won’t likely be a starter, but he’ll have a chance to get some serious playing time at safety.
Junior WR Travante Stallworth: Stallworth was knocked back by a serious knee injiury in 2009. He’s full-speed now, and he has what it takes to make a difference.