Freshman running back Johnathan Ford, who had been making a bid for playing time as a speed threat on the outside, has moved to cornerback.
Ford, seeing a glut of players in the backfield in juniors Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant, offered his services in the secondary if needed.
“I think he knew it was a position of need and he went to Coach Malzahn and said “Coach, I want to help the team win’,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “We talked for a little bit and there were some spots over there where we needed some help from a depth perception. They decided to make that move.”
Ford, a 6-foot, 186-pounder from New Hope who has been touted as one of the team’s fastest players, has shown natural ability on the defensive side of the ball in his limited time there.
For the start, he’s been working with fellow freshman Kamryn Melton and redshirt freshman T.J. Davis behind starters Chris Davis and Jonathon Mincy at cornerback.
Ford obviously has some natural ability on the defensive side of the ball, but it’s going to take some time.
“It’s going to take him a little while to learn it,” Johnson said. “He looks really good physically, now. He’s got all the skills.”
Ford could move back to running back in the future after Auburn’s cornerbacks, including sophomore Jonathan Jones get healthy.
But with depth at running back right now, Ford saw an opportunity to help shore up another area of the team.
“We feel like his future is very bright. He was slated to play on a lot of teams so we were going to find a way to get him into the mix,” Lashlee said. “He’s a big-time athlete, so to be able to be young and come in and prove yourself on offense and go right over and us think he’s got a chance to help us on defense, I think says a lot about his character as a person, his toughness and his ability.”