It’s obvious that the star of the running show this season was Kamryn Pettway. However, he wasn’t able to uphold Auburn’s strength in the run game alone.
The team of runners behind him was critical in making forward progression possible in the Tigers’ high-powered rushing attack and one worth noting was Stanton Truitt.
Truitt, a redshirt sophomore, began his Auburn career – including this past season – at wide receiver but later moved to running back early in the season in part to help fill some depth issues at the position.
Now, though, he is gone after announcing earlier this week that he will be transferring for his final two seasons of eligibility, and that could leave Auburn in a bind to fill his position at running back going into next season.
In a 56-3 rout of Arkansas on Oct. 22, Truitt had a career day with 78 rushing yards and two touchdowns on eight carries to go along with one 45-yard catch that went for a third score. That game showed what he was capable of doing as a player and strengthened the depth at the position simultaneously.
But Truitt didn’t factor much in the offense again after that point, carrying the ball only six more times for 19 yards and catching three passes for 35 more over Auburn’s final six games of the season. Ultimately, that helped lead to his decision to transfer, based on the reasoning provided in his announcement of the move.
Last offseason, Auburn also had issues at running back when then-starter Peyton Barber declared early for the draft, projected replacement Jovon Robinson was dismissed and valuable reserve Roc Thomas transferred.
Even with Pettway making his decision to stay instead of entering the draft, his season was plagued by injuries that potentially lost Auburn the Georgia game and the chance to compete for the SEC title.
And without injuries, Pettway, along with Kerryon Johnson, can only do so much. In Auburn’s Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, the two handled rushing duties, but managed only 134 yards between each other – a modest total from their season average going into the game.
With Truitt’s decision final, Auburn will have to dig into its largely untested group behind him – which includes incoming recruits who have not yet joined the team – to fill the void and stabilize the position for next season.
Even with some talented reserves already on the roster, as well as more on their way, that could be easier said than done.
(You can follow Lauren Christopher on Twitter @laurchristopher)
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