Auburn football: Inside Tashawn Manning's move from defense to offense –

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AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football practice revealed two things about Tashawn Manning on Tuesday — he has a new position, and he has a memorable nickname.

Manning practiced on the offensive line for the first time Tuesday. Gus Malzahn said last Thursday that Manning would stay on the defensive line, but the redshirt freshman now is on the interior line on offense.

“I think he thinks it’s the most beneficial thing,” junior defensive tackle Derrick Brown said. “He knows that the coaches wouldn’t do anything that would mess up his career. He’s taking it in and working with it.”

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One of Manning’s new position mates, junior guard Mike Horton, said the young player called Tay Boogie has the raw skills to make an impact on offense.

“He’s definitely physical,” Horton said. “He’s physical, so as long as a guy has that physicality in him, you can make him play O-line. You can teach him the details, and he’ll get there. But I think he’s going to be good, too.”

Manning’s move makes a lot of sense in terms of roster building. The 2016 signee didn’t enroll until last January after eight months of chemotherapy in his battle with acute promyelocytic leukemia. He was declared cancer free before enrolling and redshirted the 2017 season.

Playing time at defensive tackle would be difficult for Manning to get in the near future.

Auburn football-Auburn Tigers-Auburn-Auburn spring camp-Auburn spring practice-Tashawn Manning
Auburn offensive lineman Tashawn Manning impressed in his new position Tuesday. (Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country)

Auburn returns its top four defensive tackles — Derrick Brown, Dontavius Russell, Andrew Williams and Tyrone Truesdell — from last season. Jaunta’vius Johnson and Alec Jackson appeared to be ahead of him in the pecking order this spring.

The Tigers also added JUCO transfer Daquan Newkirk, who will miss all of spring practice with an Achilles injury, and highly touted 4-star signee Coynis Miller. Sophomore defensive end Nick Coe also has the ability to play defensive tackle, and 2018 signee Caleb Johnson could play tackle down the road.

Without Manning, Auburn still could easily go four-deep at defensive tackle. On the offensive line, though, numbers are thinner.

Mike Horton and Marquel Harrell will likely start as juniors. Brodarious Hamm and Tyler Carr are the top two names behind them at guard. If Kaleb Kim and Nick Brahms stay at center, the only other scholarship player to watch at guard is Kameron Stutts, who will arrive this summer.

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The Tigers have at least eight players at defensive tackle and, at most, five at offensive guard. The clearer path to playing time for Manning is on offense.

In his first day of work there, Manning played guard with the second-team offense in a pace drill. While incredibly raw at his new position, Manning’s effort was enough to earn the praise of offensive line coach J.B. Grimes and defensive line coach Rodney Garner.

“I think he had a good day… he definitely caught the coaches’ eyes,” Brown said. “Coach G, Coach Grimes, they were telling him good job.”

Auburn doesn’t need Manning to contribute right away at guard, but developing him as a depth piece for now — and perhaps someone who can compete for a starting job later in his career — is a good move.

Grimes has a reputation for being a top-notch talent developer, and he definitely sees potential in the Florida native.

“I think he’s taking it well, so I think he’s just trying to get coached up,” Horton said. “Coach Grimes is just telling him the basics, just ‘step right, step left.’ Once he gets the details down, he’ll be great.”


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