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Marcus Davis' goal: Improve Auburn's receiver room through coaching -- and recruiting

On3 imageby:Keith Niebuhr02/18/23


Marcus Davis’ return to Auburn to coach the position (receiver) he once played for the Tigers is a nice offseason feel-good story.

But the fact of the matter is, college football is a results-oriented business and Tiger fans likely have two main questions regarding the 28-year-old assistant: Can he develop what Auburn already has at receiver and can he recruit well enough to improve the room?

Hugh Freeze, Auburn’s head coach, certainly believes in Davis, otherwise he would not have hired him.

And others are high on Davis too. As noted: “Matrix Analytical, a Twitter account that helps in HC searches, staff building, roster management & recruiting analytics, has been praising Davis for a few days now, hinting at Auburn’s next hire being a ‘diamond in the rough.’ He grades out as a five-star with Dave Bartoo’s service.”

Davis is excited to work with Auburn’s current group of receivers

Looking at what he currently has to work with, Davis sees potential.

“From a film standpoint, I think there’s some guys who will have a chance to do good things,” Davis said. “Obviously with the spring and being around them, we will get a chance to evaluate that. For right now, I think there’s some guys that will be able to help us.”

Most of Auburn’s top receivers from last season, along with the younger ones who seem to have promising futures, return in 2023. So on the one hand, you’ve got some experience. But on the other, the group’s production hasn’t been stellar (not all of that is on them, obviously).

Davis, known as an optimistic person, will use the spring to further evaluate what he has — and what may be lacking.

“All of them have a unique personality. I like being around those guys,” Davis said. “The biggest thing for me is, they’re all hungry. They all want to be coached and involved and around. That’s the start; once you have that you don’t have to pull that out of people. That’s a good sign. I’m just excited to get going with them in the spring, get on the field with them, and learn more about them.

A transfer has the potential to give the receiver group a boost

To help give the receivers a boost, Auburn brought in Cincinnati transfer Nick Mardner, who played for Davis two years ago at Hawaii. He has 81 career catches.

“I’m looking forward to him,” Davis said. “He’s a guy that brings the combination of size and speed. He’s every bit of 6-foot-5 and he can run. I think that’s something that he will definitely bring to that room. We have other guys who can do some dangerous things as well who probably didn’t have that opportunity. The biggest thing for me is getting everybody together and getting them on the same page. Competition will bring out the best in everybody. “

Historically, Freeze has been known to utilize taller receivers. That could bode well for Mardner and returning players such as Camden Brown and Landen King. King also potentially could see action at tight end.

“It’s always going to be good having a guy like that because he’s versatile,” Davis said. “Guys like that usually help the team be more complete because he has a certain skillset that others don’t have. It’s always good to have a guy like that to be able to make you a more efficient and better offense.”

In the 2023 class, Auburn signed just one receiver, Daquayvious Sorey of Florida. At 6-foot-2, he’s another big target.

“Man, that’s a talent right there,” Davis said. “He’s a talented young man. I can’t wait to get to work with him. I think he has a unique skillset. You love a young talented guy because you can mold and build him. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Recruiting will be key to Davis’ success at Auburn

While he coaches up one group, Davis also has his eyes on the future. It’s possible the Tigers may look to the portal following spring practice for further help. Then, you have the 2024 class. It’s not clear at this time how many receivers Auburn plans to sign in this cycle, but Davis, Freeze and the rest of the staff are targeting some of the most sought-after players in the country.

Thus far, feedback from high school prospects about Davis has been positive.

“He’s a nice guy,” Georgia receiver commit Ny Carr said. “He gets on a personal level with you and talks about what he’s been through and asks a lot of questions. (Davis) just likes to show deep love. And gets to know you. I like that he’s very amped and has a lot of energy.”

For Davis, connecting with recruits is vital. To achieve that, he just tries to be himself.

““Authentic, very thorough and genuine. I’m just myself, definitely energetic,” he said. “I show my personality a little bit but the best way I can explain it is just authentic and genuine. That’s easy to do here, because this is a place that I love from the bottom of my heart, so it’s easier to be that way and get the job done.”

What is looking for in 2024? What traits does Davis want to see in his targets?

“It just depends, obviously you want the best player, but it just depends on where the room is and what you’re trying to find after that,” Davis said. “I love the combo receiver- a guy that has the ability to play both outside and inside, but there’s value in all. There’s value in the true outside guy and there’s value in that true slot guy. So, it just depends on where the room is and then go from there.”

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