There does not seem to be much consistency when it comes to predicting Auburn Football’s 2022 season.
Several media members within the conference have written off the Tigers by predicting that they will finish dead last in the SEC West. On the other hand, when talking with Bryan Harsin and several players, they have the mindset of playing the role of “spoiler” this season and winning more games than expected.
No matter the perspective, we can all agree that Auburn Football will play one of the toughest schedules in College Football this upcoming season, due to the overwhelming talent that each opponent brings in.
College Football News has recently chosen the top 10 programs from each program competing in the FBS as part of their season previews. Based on those selections, here is the best player from every team that Auburn will face this season, and why College Football News listed each player as their top choice (with the exception of Auburn’s season-opening opponent, Mercer).
Game 1: RB Fred Davis, Mercer
Davis led the Bears in rushing last season with 847 yards on 163 carries with 14 touchdowns. He rushed for over 100 yards twice last season, with his best game coming against Samford on October 2. The freshman rushed for 276 yards on 28 attempts in Mercer’s 45-42 win over the Bulldogs. He had touchdown rushes of 31, 21, and 54 yards.
Game 2: DE Cade Hall, San Jose State
- 6-3, 270.
- 148 tackles, 18 sacks, 30.5 TFL, 1 broken up passes, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries.
- 2020 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.
- First Team All-Mountain West
Game 3: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
The 6-2, 196-pound veteran corner was named a Third Team All-Big Ten performer over the last two seasons, and now he’s on the verge of becoming an All-American on the way to cementing himself as a top pro prospect. He made three tackles in a reserve role in his first season, and came up with 83 stops with one interception and eight broken up passes over the last two.
Game 4: CB Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri
He’s not all that big, and he has only had one good year as a defensive back after moving over from receiver, but until the star recruits rise up, the 5-11, 178-pound junior should be the team’s best pro prospect. He made 37 tackles last year with three interceptions, seven broken up passes, and with one recovered fumble – and he’s just getting started.
Game 5: WR Kayshon Boutte, LSU
Hurt for most of last year, the 6-0, 205-pound future NFL star only saw time in six games before having issues with his ankle. He still led the team with 38 catches for 509 yards and nine scores. He busted out as a freshman with 45 catches for 735 yards and five scores – averaging over 16 yards per catch – and he should be in the mix for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.
Game 6: DT Jalen Carter, Georgia
It’s not fair to anyone to consider the 6-3, 310-pound defensive tackle to be as good as a No. 1 overall draft pick like Travon Walker or with the potential impact of an anchor like Jordan Davis, but … The Second Team All-SEC tackle has the talent to grow into a very, very high overall draft pick and be the standout star on another great Georgia line. He found his role last year and has been a good part of the front over the last two seasons with 51 tackles for three sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.
Game 7: QB Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss
Okay, okay, first he actually has to win the job, but he’s got too much talent not to blow up in this offense under this coaching staff. The 6-2, 220-pounder was a superstar recruit for USC – he was the 2020 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year – comes to Ole Miss after completing 117-of-189 passes for 1,353 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions, and with 43 rushing yards and two touchdowns last year.
Game 8: QB KJ Jefferson, Arkansas
The 6-3, 245-pounder got in a little work in his first two years, showing good toughness, a nice arm, and good running ability. And then last year it all kicked in. Not only was he efficient and sharp – just four interceptions and 24 touchdown passes, hitting 67% of his passes for 2,676 yards – but he led the team with 664 rushing yards and six scores.
Game 9: QB Will Rogers, Mississippi State
He figured out how to run the offense, and now in his third season he should be about to take the Mike Leach attack to a whole other level. The 6-2, 210-pound veteran stepped it up last season with 4,739 passing yards and 36 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, coming off a 1,976-yard, 11 touchdown freshman campaign.
Game 10: WR Ainias Smith, Texas A&M
Okay, so this is sort of a cop out. At least three of the stars of the freshmen class could and probably should be considered in the mix for A&M’s best players, and several pro prospects should also be in the discussion, but Smith is among the dangerous all-around weapons in the SEC – now he needs the ball more. On the negative side, his situation is up in the air after being arrested for unlawful carrying of a weapon and a DWI. He has caught 112 passes for 1,321 yards and 15 touchdowns in his three years, and ran 15 times for 373 yards and four scores. He has also averaged 9.7 yards per punt return with a score
Game 11: QB Jarret Doege, Western Kentucky
Going into his sixth season, the 6-2, 210-pound veteran spent his first two years at Bowling Green throwing for just over 4,000 yards with 39 touchdowns and 15 picks. In three seasons at West Virginia he threw 19 interceptions, but he also threw for close to 6,500 yards with 40 touchdowns.
Game 12: DE Will Anderson, Alabama
The 6-4, 243-pound Anderson was the most dominant defensive force in college football last season, earning All-American honors with the Bronko Nagurski Award making 102 tackles with 17.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss with three broken up passes. As a freshman he came up with 52 with seven sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss with a forced fumble.