(Ja'Varrius Johnson - Cat Wofford/Auburn Athletics)
The wide receiver room at Auburn has experienced quite the overhaul this offseason. With the departures of Auburn’s three top receivers, Seth Williams, Anthony Schwartz, and Eli Stove to the 2021 NFL Draft and the coaching change that led to Cornelius Williams taking the reins of this position group, this inexperienced and young group of wide receivers will play a major role in Bryan Harsin and Mike Bobo’s all new offense.
The Patrick Party will breakdown five of Auburn’s wide receivers that could become Bo Nix’s next big target.
(Kobe Hudson - Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)
Kobe Hudson - #5
Kobe Hudson has certainly been a name that has risen to the top in terms of finding Auburn’s next star at wide receiver. Hudson, the former number one rated receiver out of the state of Georgia by 247, ESPN, and PrepStar and ranked #18 nationally at his position by Rivals, ESPN, and 247, arrived on the plains January 2020 in hopes of turning some heads during Spring Practice. With the Covid-19 Pandemic putting a halt to that idea and greatly limiting the amount of time Hudson had in front of his coaches, Kobe had to rely on his high school talent to get on the field in his true freshman season.
While Kobe Hudson did get to play in every game for the Tigers during the 2020 season, he was only targeted nine times with seven catches for 70 yards. Hudson made his first impact in Athens against the Georgia Bulldogs with one catch on one target for 18 yards. Hudson also had a similar stat line in the Iron Bowl with one catch on one target for 20 yards. The biggest game of the season for not only Kobe Hudson but all of the younger receivers was the Citrus Bowl. With the departure of Head Coach Gus Malzahn many of Auburn’s veteran players looked ahead to their professional careers and opted out of the game. This provided Hudson and company with the chance to show off their skills. Kobe Hudson took full advantage of that opportunity with his best collegiate game to date with three catches on four targets with 29 yards.
In 2021, Kobe Hudson was finally able to experience a “real” spring in Auburn, now in front of the new coaching staff, and put up a similar stat line in the A-Day Game as he did during his freshman season with 20 yards on two catches. Hudson will look to play a bigger role on Harsin’s new and rejuvenated offense, that will likely feature new opportunities for wide receivers in comparison to the previous offense attacks on the plains.
Ja'Varrius Johnson - #6
Ja’Varrius Johnson has been at Auburn since the 2019 season but, due to injuries and a redshirt last season, he has not seen the field often. Now with a new staff in place, this provides Johnson with the chance to show off his skills and even start to climb up the depth chart. And that he did. After the Tiger’s first scrimmage of Spring Practice, Ja’Varrius Johnson caught Bryan Harsin’s eye.
"He's been one of the more consistent players, day in and day out, as far as his execution and preparation," he said. "Being able to come off the ball and be an explosive player play after play, the great ones who play that position at wide receiver, that's what they do. He's played faster, and he's done it more consistently. He's made some plays in practice."
While Johnson didn’t have the greatest A-Day performance with 15 yards on two receptions, he will look to now be a leader in the wide receiver room in his third season at Auburn.
(Shedrick Jackson - Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics)
Shedrick Jackson - #11
Shedrick Jackson is the lone veteran and senior in the wide receiver room for the Tiger’s this season. During his first three seasons, Jackson gradually increased his production and time on the field. As a true freshman, Jackson had 15 yards on 2 catches with one start at Arkansas. In year two with the Tigers, Jackson started five of the nine games he played in and had a season total of 31 yards on two catches. Last season, other than the Kentucky game, which Jackson missed due to an injury, Shedrick Jackson played in every game and had a season total of six receptions for 84 yards.
Now as we look towards Shedrick Jackson’s senior season at Auburn, the major question is can Jackson take the next step and become the leader of this young wide receiver room.
(Elijah Canion - Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)
Elijah Canion - #17
Elijah Canion came to Auburn a season ago as one of the top 80 receivers nationally by ESPN, 247, and Rivals but, due to very limited practice time prior to the season Canion, and many other newcomers, had few opportunities to prove why they should get on the field. Canion made his first appearance as a Tiger in the blowout win against LSU in which he had one catch on four targets for nine yards. Canion would continue to get in games and make small impacts here or there until he got his big shot at the Citrus Bowl. With the coaching change and opt outs, many of the Tiger’s underclassmen had the opportunity to show Bryan Harsin, for the first time, what they could do. And no one did that better than Elijah Canion. Canion finished the day with 3 receptions on six targets for a team high 80 yards.
As Canion’s first Spring Practice at Auburn came to a close, he yet again led the team with his receiving numbers at the A-Day Game with 6 receptions for 51 yards and a Touchdown. Canion certainly looks like he will become the leader in the wide receiver room but will he be able to preform to back that up.
(Ze'Vian Capers - Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)
Ze'Vian Capers - #80
Ze’Vian Capers’s path through his true freshman year at Auburn was a little bit different than those of Canion and Hudson. While Capers experienced very few preseason practices he was able to consistently get on the field and be a true weapon for Gus Malzahn’s offense during the 2020 season. Capers started his first ever game at Auburn in the season opener against Kentucky and had a 17 yard reception. Capers put on another great performance in Columbia with 40 yards on three receptions for the Tigers and also caught a touchdown pass in a blowout win against LSU.
Unfortunately, Capers ended his 2020 season with a foot injury that required surgery in January. While it is clear that the former four star recruit can make an impact for the Tigers in the passing game, the real question is how much catching up will Capers have to do since he missed out on spring practices and some of the summer workouts.
While the wide receivers group is one of the least experienced and youngest position groups on the roster for this upcoming season, it is crucial that some of these talented underclassmen rise up to the challenge in order to allow Bo Nix and company to advance the ball down field come this fall.