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Auburn newcomers to keep an eye on in the 2014 season

Published 6:19pm Wednesday, August 13, 2014

By Andy Graham
Outlook Sports Columnist

The Auburn Tigers are the defending SEC champions and were 13 seconds away from claiming their second national title in four years.
Unfortunately, the last four times the Tigers played for the league crown in Atlanta, they followed up the next season with records of 3-8 (1998), 7-5 (2001), 9-4 (2005) and 8-5 (2011).
In all four instances, Auburn had to replace their starting quarterback as well as many other key positions.
For once, the Tigers find themselves in an enviable position with a returning starter at quarterback and veterans running two-deep on both sides of the ball.
Gus Malzahn returns his entire coaching staff intact which also significantly increases the chance of a repeat.
While Jordan-Hare Stadium will be home to a vast amount of experience this year, there are always new players desperately trying to make an impact.
I thought I might introduce you to five newcomers on the roster this season who will undoubtedly be household names by October.
1. WR D’haquille “Duke” Williams – This junior-college transfer originally from LaPlace, Louisiana comes to the Plains with a mountain of hype and enough ability to live up to it.
He participated in spring practice and got rave reviews from coaches and teammates.
At 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, he is a very impressive physical specimen much like his counterpart Sammie Coates.  Together, these two should make Auburn’s passing game much improved in 2014.
2.  S Derrick Moncrief – Another junior-college transfer from the same school as Duke Williams (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC) with the same kind of elite talent.
Just like Williams, he participated in spring practice and gained the respect of his coaches and teammates in a very short amount of time.
He was able to absorb the defensive playbook quicker than most and secured his place before spring practice was even over.
He has the size – at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds – that defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is looking for at the boundary safety position. He’s known as a hard hitter, so receivers beware.
3. LT Shon Coleman – You probably already know Coleman pretty well unless you’ve been living in a hole somewhere.  He was originally signed by Auburn in February of 2010 as a highly-ranked offensive lineman out of Olive Branch, Mississippi.
Tragically, he was diagnosed with leukemia shortly thereafter and underwent treatments which put his career in limbo.  Incredibly, he is slated to be the starting left tackle on the Auburn offensive line in 2014.  This could be the best story in college football.
4. WR Stanton Truitt – Gus Malzahn really likes this true freshman speedster from Atlanta, and he believes Truitt can be a playmaker for the Tigers immediately.
He’s barely the size of an Alabama mosquito at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds but apparently is incredible in open space.
He better be fast at that size.
5.  PK Daniel Carlson – Auburn hasn’t had to worry about a kicker in quite a while.  The Tigers have been lucky with John Vaughn, Wes Byrum and Cody Parkey for the last decade.
Carlson has a very strong leg, but no experience. It’s his job for the next four years if he can handle it.
Graham is a sports columnist for The Outlook.