BIRMINGHAM — The Auburn Tigers stayed busy in the transfer portal this offseason.
Auburn added nine players during Bryan Harsin’s first months as head coach, and the group of incoming players range in position, hype and projected impact for the upcoming fall.
Harsin and his staff brought him a talented crop of transfers that include LSU quarterback TJ Finley, Central Michigan running back Jordon Ingram, Georgia wide receiver Demetris Robertson, Northwestern defensive lineman Eku Leota, Kansas defensive lineman Marcus Harris, UAB defensive lineman Tony Fair, West Virginia defensive back Dreshun Miller, Vanderbilt defensive back Donovan Kaufman and Southeast Missouri State defensive tackle Bydarrius Knighten.
Harsin addressed the roles he envisions the transfers playing on his first team at Auburn on Thursday prior to speaking at SEC Media Days.
As far as Harsin is concerned, each of the nine have a chance to impress their new coaching staff and earn a starting spot come Sept. 4.
“The expectations for every one of those transfers is to come in here, compete and play,” Harsin said.
“There’s no guarantees. Alright, not any one of them like, ‘You’re going to be the guy. You have the spot already.’ You have to come in, you have to compete, you’re going to get your opportunities and the better that you do with those opportunities the more you’re going to get. And ultimately, that’s what we want to create: every day is the environment where we’re competing.”
Harsin explained the key to getting each of the nine transfers up to speed was getting them the information they needed as soon as they signed with the Tigers. He pointed out those players’ previous college experience mean they should understand the expectations they’ll face at Auburn.
Harsin spoke at the podium about the importance of his players believing in themselves, a message he hit on earlier in the day when talking about the transfers.
“I mean, their expectations are very clear: get yourself ready, come in here and compete and we expect you to play somewhere on this football team,” Harsin said. “You know, if you’re not doing that — in my opinion with the guys that we brought in [because] they’re talented enough — there’s a problem. There’s a bigger problem there than just football.”
Finley stands as one of Auburn’s most intriguing transfers given his position and his addition alongside junior quarterback Bo Nix, the Tigers’ presumed starter for 2021.
Harsin complimented Finley on Thursday by saying he’s learned quickly since arriving at Auburn has proven his work ethic is where it needs to be. Harsin added he and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo are on the same page regarding Nix, Finley and super senior Grant Loy and their preparation in the lead-up to the coming season.
“That’s what I hope we see when we get into August and we start preparing is what I’ve seen from TJ, what I’ve seen from Bo, what I’ve seen from that group, is that going to show up?” Harsin said. “It’s going to be fast-paced, it’s going to be intense, it’s going to be all those things, and you better be ready for that so we can have a great day and then we can learn from it and we can go back and evaluate it and then repeat the very next day.”