What does Auburn’s receiver room look like with the departure of Kobe Hudson?

Kobe Hudson’s departure from Auburn’s football program on Monday evening came as an unwelcomed surprise to start the new year. The Tigers now find themselves in a similar position to what this coaching staff walked into a year ago. What may have been just a want for Auburn in the offseason has now turned into a need at the wide receiver position. What does Auburn’s receiver room look like with the recent announcements? Let’s take a dive into who’s returning and leaving.

Departures

  • Demetris Robertson – 37 REC, 489 YDS, 13.2 YPC, 4 TD
  • Kobe Hudson – 44 REC, 580 YDS, 13.2 YPC, 4 TD
  • Caylin Newton – 1 REC, 31 YDS, 31.0 YPC

We will start with the bad news. Auburn is losing two of its top three pass-catchers from the 2021 season. It could have been all three if it wasn’t for veteran Shedrick Jackson announcing that he would be taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to him due to COVID-19. Regardless, Auburn is losing its primary slot receiver and one of its outside, deep-ball threats.

Returning

  • Shedrick Jackson – 40 REC, 527 YDS, 13.2 YPC, 1 TD
  • Tar’Varish Dawson – 1 GP
  • Ja’Varrius Johnson – 19 REC, 274 YDS, 14.4 YPC, 2 TD, 2 ATT, 59 YDS, 29.5 YPC, 1 TD
  • Malcolm Johnson Jr. – 6 REC, 82 YDS, 13.7 YPC, 1 TD, 3 ATT, 25 YDS, 8.3 YPC
  • Ze’Vian Capers – 6 REC, 54 YDS, 9.0 YPC
  • J.J. Evans – DNP

There isn’t a shortage of young talent coming back, but there isn’t significant experience in the room. Some of these players (Johnson Jr., Capers, Evans and Dawson) hardly played at all. Why were they not able to get onto the field? What is the coaching staff’s plans for this group of players they did not recruit?

I expect Shedrick Jackson to be one of the main targets next season on the outside, potentially as the X receiver. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he finished second on the team in targets, but unfortunately for Auburn fans, he only hauled in 58.8 percent of his targets. Auburn needs more consistency out of Jackson in 2022.

Ja’Varrius Johnson could be at play to be the primary option in the slot in 2022. He showed flashes, but he wasn’t consistently on the field for Auburn, only averaging three targets per game.

Incoming recruits (according to 247Sports Composite)

  • Omari Kelly – 4-star ATH, No. 359 nationally, No. 17 ATH
  • Camden Brown – 3-star WR, No. 525 nationally, No. 70 WR
  • Jay Fair – 3-star WR, No. 571 nationally, No. 79 WR

The wide receiver class lacks a player that jumps off the page, but all three of these recruits represent the future image of what Bryan Harsin wants at wide receiver at Auburn. Harsin has shown the willingness to play young players if they show they are ready for game action. Don’t put it out of the realm of possibility that any one of these incoming recruits plays right away. In fact, if Auburn fails in the transfer portal, they will have to play.

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