5 things we learned about Auburn football from SEC Media Days 2021
HOOVER — New Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin didn't lack for words in his debut at the SEC Media Days podium.
He answered three questions. Well, four if you count Bob Holt's two-parter.
Still, insights could be gleaned from Thursday. Here are five things we learned from his time at the lectern as well as some breakouts while at the Wynfrey Hotel.
Auburn sits below the 80% vaccination rate threshold
Harsin announced that Auburn has about 60% of its team vaccinated. That's below the 80% threshold that SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said Monday the conference desires for each team. Sankey said the league is considering not postponing games this year if there are too many positive COVID-19 tests and that forfeits could be on the table.
Harsin said vaccinations are a deeply personal decision for each individual.
"Our guys have done a great job," Harsin said. "The last five months, we haven't had any positive tests. I think our guys have taken it very seriously, which is hard to do. There's a lot of things going on, but I respect our players in that they are focused, they do take it seriously and they're trying very hard to do the things the right way so that we can play and not have those issues. So I'm proud of them for that, and then we'll see where we get to as the season begins."
No significant injuries should hold most players out at the start of camp
Harsin said he anticipates that everybody should be good to go when camp starts, outside of defensive tackle Jeremiah Wright, who is coming off an ACL injury from the spring. Otherwise, there are some small bumps and bruises such as hamstrings and rolled ankles, but most everyone should be available to practice.
"We should have everybody out there and, knock on wood, the goal is to keep everybody healthy," Harsin said.
Safety Juwon Gaston headed to junior college
Harsin said that Gaston will be heading to JUCO. A Montgomery native, Gaston could be someone who Auburn recruits again down the road, but Harsin said he couldn't talk about it now that Gaston is a prospect again.
"But he is going to go to junior college and then we'll go from there and see what happens," Harsin said.
Linebacker Owen Pappoe makes strong first impression with Harsin
Pappoe was one of the first people to introduce himself to Harsin when the new coach got to Auburn. While Harsin's wife and son were in his office, Pappoe gave her a hug and shook his hand.
"You just talk about a pro right out of the gate," Harsin said. "First impressions, I was like, 'Who is this man right here?' I think he is, without question, a leader on our football team."
Pappoe said it was a respect thing.
"I wanted to go over there and personally meet him myself and let him know who I am," he said. "Me and Harsin, we've got a lot of respect for each other. Outside football he's a really good man, has a lot of knowledge."
How to tackle running back Tank Bigsby
If anyone knows what it takes to bring down the sophomore running back, it's Pappoe.
So, how does one tackle the 2020 SEC freshman of the year?
"You've got to come with everything," Pappoe said. "You've got to try to wrap his hips up. Man, he's elusive. Probably try to juke you out of your shoes, but you've just got to get him before he gets going."