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Auburn Adds Defensive Line Depth

When Spring practice concluded for the Auburn Tigers, head coach Hugh Freeze mentioned the Tigers would need to add defensive line depth. In the span of just a few days, they have been able to do that. The interior defensive line was a major question with the departures of Marcus Harris and Justin Rogers after the 2023 season. Harris led the team with seven sacks last season and is thought to be a late-round pick. The Tigers will need to find suitable replacements this fall.

Auburn does have Jayson Jones returning for another season. During the winter transfer portal window, they picked up Gage Keys from Kansas and Trill Carter from Texas. Edge rusher was also a post-Spring concern. Jalen McCleod returns this season after collecting five and a half sacks last season. There is a lot of hope that Keldric Faulk can take a huge leap in his second season on the plains. New defensive line coach Vontrell King-Williams got some help this week as Auburn adds defensive line depth.

Auburn Adds Defensive Line Depth

Philip Blidi

The first domino to drop was the Tigers landing former Indiana Hoosier Philip Blidi. In his only season with the Hoosiers, Blidi collected 30 tackles and had four tackles for loss. Blidi also started in 11 of 12 games for Indiana. He appeared in 34 games the three seasons prior with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. During his time in Lubbock, he had 40 total tackles and collected two and half sacks. He entered the portal on March 19th as a graduate transfer, and 247Sports has him listed as a three-star recruit.

Isaiah Raikes

Isaiah Raikes is returning to the SEC after originally transferring to USC after the 2023 season. Before making the move out west, Raikes spent four seasons at Texas A&M playing 42 games for the Aggies. Over that time Raikes had 43 tackles and four and half tackles for loss. He totaled one sack in 2023 that was split in games versus Tennessee and Ole Miss. Raikes committed to the Trojans on January 9th but went back into the transfer portal on April 12th. He will be reunited with D.J. Durkin, who was the defensive coordinator as Texas A&M in 2022 and 2023.

Keyron Crawford

The Tigers have been in big need of a pass rusher. They are getting that in Keyron Crawford from Arkansas State. The Memphis, Tennessee native had 44 total tackles in 2023 and collected five and a half sacks. Crawford entered the transfer portal on April 16th and is listed as a three-star transfer portal recruit. His best game of the season came on November 4th against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. In the 37-17 win, Crawford had seven total tackles and two sacks. He also had two forced fumbles in 2023. He played high school football at Briarcrest Christian. Freeze was a coach at the school from 1992-2004 before entering the college football ranks.

More Auburn Portal News

The Tigers have lost a few players since the opening of the Spring transfer portal window. The most recent is the departure of linebacker Wesley Steiner. He had just 15 tackles last season after accumulating 46 in 2022. Also on defense, a pair of defensive backs in J.D. Rhym and Colton Hood have placed their names in the transfer portal.

Offensively a few names have been linked to the Tigers. Wide receiver has been a big focus for Freeze, and they received a visit from Penn State receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith per multiple media outlets. Per On3’s Hayes Fawcett Jaden Rashada (Arizona State), could potentially make a visit to Auburn. He has a scheduled visit to Georgia on April 30th and May 1st. The transfer portal will be worth paying attention to when it pertains to the Auburn Tigers.

Photo Credit: Jake Crandall/ Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK

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