Marcus Davis

Auburn receiver Denson back to running routes

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A torn torn patellar tendon was to blame for the early end to Auburn wide receiver Jaylon Denson‘s 2013 season. The injury was suffered against LSU last September, before Auburn’s run to the SEC championship could have been seen as a realistic possibility. Denson’s road back to the playing field took a big step forward on Tuesday by running his first routes since going down to the injury.

Denson was responsible for three receptions and 45 receiving yards in his brief junior season last fall, but is regarded as a dependable target for the Auburn offense. Denson was a four-star recruit out of Hoover, Alabama in the Class of 2011. He has yet to have much of an impact on the field for the Tigers, but if he returns healthy and can stay on the field, he could add a little bit of a veteran presence in the Auburn passing game, which was led by a youthful mix last fall with sophomores Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis and freshman Marcus Davis. At this point it is not expected Denson will become a go-to receiver, but having a receiver with good hands should make the Auburn offense a bit more dangerous in the fall with opposing defenses struggling to lock down on all targets.

Denson was held out of spring practices while he continued to rehab.

Auburn holds off Manziel magic for 45-41 win

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For the second time in as many weeks Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had to be taken out of the game to be treated for an injury. Manziel returned to the game once again this week, and nearly pulled out a memorable victory. Instead, it was Auburn who celebrated a win in Kyle Field, hanging on for a wild 45-41 win in SEC West play.

Entering the fourth quarter trailing Texas A&M 31-24, Auburn scored three touchdowns to take a lead and the defense held on for a stop on Texas A&M’s final drive of the game. Nick Marshall‘s wheel route pass completion to Marcus Davis down the right sideline kept a drive alive and two quick plays later the Tigers took a lead after a video review overturned a play on the field and awarded a go-ahead touchdown for Auburn.

Manziel appeared to injure his right elbow or shoulder while running up the middle of the field and being tackled by a pair of Auburn defenders earlier in the quarter. He immediately came out of the game and was attended to by the Texas A&M medical staff. Cameras hovering over the field at the game caught video of Manziel getting off the bench to try tossing a pass to Mike Evans, but as he wound his arm he abruptly stopped his throwing motion, shook his head and was taken to the locker room. While he was out of the game the Aggies, with back-up quarterback Matt Joeckel leading the offense, went three-and-out. Perhaps Manziel’s brief absence cost Texas A&M a win. The way the offenses were in control, it is not hard to envision.

Auburn took a lead while Manziel was being treated, but Manziel would return in a time of need for Texas A&M. Trailing by four, Manziel completed six straight passes and took off on a short touchdown run to put the Aggies in front late in the game. Then, after Auburn capped a 75-yard drive in 13 plays under four minutes for the lead but did so unwisely using a hurry-up offense close the goal line, Manziel worked his magic one more time for a game-winning drive with 1:19 to work with, and he nearly pulled it off. Auburn’s defense had been chasing Manziel and Evans all day long, but came up with a big stop as the Aggies were knocking on the door.

Auburn and Texas A&M combined for 1,217 yards with a pretty even split. Manziel passed for 454 yards and four touchdowns and added 48 rushing yards and a touchdown for good measure. Auburn’s Tre Mason rushed for 178 yards and a touchdown and Marshall took off for 100 yards and two touchdowns as well. Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans was nearly unstoppable as well, collecting 287 receiving yards and four touchdowns as Manziel’s top target.

The win improves Auburn to 6-1 this year, with a 3-1 record in the SEC. The only loss for Auburn came on the road at LSU. Auburn should have an easier time getting to 7-1 when they host Florida Atlantic next week in a non-conference game. then will come two road games, at Arkansas and Tennessee, before closing out the regular season at home against Georgia and Alabama. Auburn’s season has all of a sudden put them in a good position in the SEC standings. To make an unexpected trip to Atlanta, Auburn will need a little bit of help (Alabama beating LSU), but Tigers fans can at least dream wildly for a day or two.

Texas A&M now has two losses in SEC play, including an earlier loss to Alabama. Their chances to play for an SEC Championship may have already been slim, but may have been  wiped out with this loss. Sure, Texas A&M may still have the best offense in the SEC, but their shortcomings on defense continue to haunt them in big spots.

Auburn reportedly loses incoming four-star WR due to academics

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We’re less than a month away from the start of preseason camp. Like so many other programs across the country, however, one incoming player will not be suiting up when practices begin for Auburn. Reportedly.

Multiple outlets are reporting that wide receiver Earnest Robinson has failed to qualify academically and will instead enroll at East Mississippi Community College. Auburn has officially not commented on the matter.

Robinson was listed as a four-star receiver by Rivals.com, and the 14th-best receiver in the country coming out of high school. Three other receivers in Auburn’s 2013 class — Tony Stevens, Dominic Walker and Marcus Davis — have already found their way to campus and enrolled in summer classes.

23 players make up Malzahn’s first Auburn recruiting class

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(Below are the bios released by Auburn on the new members of its 2013 recruiting class.)

Montravius Adams (DT; Dooly County HS; Vienna, Ga.): Strong, agile defensive line prospect … Under Armour All-America Game … 247Sports All-America … No. 2 defensive lineman, No. 14 overall by PrepStar … ranked as No. 25 overall, No. 3 DL by Rivals … No. 3 DT by Scout … No. 10 overall, No. 2 DT, No. 2 in Georgia by 247Sports … five-time player of the game his senior season for Coach Jimmy Hughes … recorded 127 tackles, 34 TFL, 7.5 sacks leading Dooly County to the Class A state title game … ESPN 150 … son of Debbie Young

Mackenro Alexander (DB; Immokalee HS; Immokalee, Fla.): Hard-hitting defender with versatile skills … totaled 154 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles as a senior playing outside linebacker for Coach Jerrod Ackley … picked off five interceptions as a senior, returning four for touchdowns, an Immokalee record … his 350+ career tackles set another Immokalee record … ranked No. 43 DB by Rivals … No. 50 DB, No. 96 prospect from Florida by 247Sports … No. 91 by Scout … Naples Daily News defensive player of the year … son of Marie and Jean Alexander

Cameron Artis-Payne (RB; Allan Hancock (Calif.) College; Milford (N.Y.) Academy; Harrisburg HS; Harrisburg, Pa.): Rated as the nation’s top junior college running back … enrolled at Auburn in January … rushed for 2,048 yards, 25 touchdowns in 2012 at Allan Hancock for Coach Kris Dutra, leading California Community College Athletic Association in rushing yards, yards per game, yards per rush and touchdowns … JC Athletic Bureau first team All-America offensive player of year … conference player of the week five times … rushed for 1,364 yards, 18 touchdowns as a freshman … all-California First Team Offense in Region IV by the California Community College Football Coaches Association … attended Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y. after high school … graduate of Harrisburg (Pa.) High … enrolled as a philosophy major at Auburn … son of Victoria Artis and David Payne

(more…)

Hokies’ Antone Exum personifies the Christmas spirit

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As most of us get older, we realize that the Christmas season is more above giving than receiving, especially when kids are part of the holiday equation.  At a relatively young age, Virginia Tech’s Antone Exum already has a complete grasp of that sentiment.

As part of the swag for earning a bid to the Russell Athletic Bowl, each Hokies player was given, among other things, a $470 gift card to Best Buy.  Monday afternoon, Exum and some of his teammates headed out to an Orlando Best Buy for a shopping spree on the bowl’s dime.

At the store, the redshirt junior cornerback noticed three young boys — kids he had never met, incidentally — which set the giving-not-receiving wheels in motion.  After initially picking out items for himself, Exum ultimately put the gadgets back and began a search for the kids.  Upon finding them, he floored ’em with a simple gesture: “I got this money and I want you to go shopping and get what you want,” the player told the kids, who the Orlando Sentinel reports are two brothers and a cousin from the Bahamas and just happened to be in the country for the holidays.

And that’s exactly what Santa Exum and the kids did, with the young trio ultimately settling on a PlayStation 3 and a Blackberry phone.  The kids wanted some games for the PS3 as well so, with his $470 gift card nearly maxed out, Exum enlisted the help of teammates Tariq Edwards and Marcus Davis, who gave up what was left on their respective cards to the kids.

“I think I was blessed to have a lot of fortunate Christmases when I was a kid, so I hope that every little kid deserves to have a perfect Christmas,” Exum said according to the Sentinel.  “I know it was a Christmas that I won’t forget because I won’t forget those smiles and the excitement on their faces when I told them they could get whatever they wanted in the store.”

To help him remember, Exum had a picture taken with the beneficiaries of his generosity and posted it on his Twitter account:

Antone Exum 1

Said head coach Frank Beamer, “I was proud of him. It made someone else’s Christmas better and I think he felt good about it.”

As well he should.  And bravo, Antone Exum.  We could all take a little lesson from your selfless gesture — this or any other time of the year.