When Auburn hired Hugh Freeze after the conclusion of the 2023 season it brough much excitement. The main reason is due to the success Freeze and offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery have had with quarterbacks in the past. Teams coached by Freeze haven’t been known for their running backs. That is not to say they were not successful, but this is Auburn and at times the university has been tabbed as running back university.
Auburn will have a new feature back for the first time in three seasons with Tank Bigsby now with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL. Bigsby finished his Auburn career with 2,903 yards and 25 touchdowns with a 5.4 yards per carry average. Despite those numbers, Bigsby did not have the career many believed he would at Auburn.
The favorite to replace him should be Jarquez Hunter, but there are a lot of questions on his status at the moment. Playing in the number two role Hunter has had some good performances. Over his first two seasons he has rushed for 1,261 yards and 10 touchdowns. He really was strong in the final three games of last season going over 100 yards against Texas A&M, Western Kentucky, and Alabama. If his status becomes clearer when the season arrives, Hunter should be the number one option for Auburn.
After Hunter there are other viable options at running back for the Tigers. The most likely should be South Florida Bulls transfer Brian Battie. He was one of the best players in the AAC last season, and one of the few bright spots on a bad team. South Florida finished with a 1-11 season, but Battie was third in the conference with 1,186 yards on the ground. He found the endzone eight times and proved to be a threat in special teams. In 2021 and 2022 he had over 600 yards as a returner and scored three touchdowns in 2021. Other players to watch for the Tigers in the backfield will be the returning Damari Alston and Sean Jackson.