Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It always seemed a longshot that running back Mike Blakely would see the field this season for Auburn.
A four-star recruit out of Bradenton, Fla., Blakely signed with Florida and enrolled in Gainesville in time for spring camp. But a closer look at the new Will Muschamp regime (and specifically Charlie Weis's pro-style offense) convinced him to transfer to the Plains. Even with Blakely's limited time as a Gator, his signature on his Letter of Intent means the NCAA's transfer rules dictate a year on the sidelines.
But Blakely and Auburn applied for a waiver from the NCAA, hoping that the coaching change and Blakely's injury-induced absence from Florida's spring practice might induce them to let Blakely skip the usual transfer penalty.
Per Blakely's own Twitter feed, that waiver is not happening:
Blakely will spend his redshirt year in 2011 and hit the field for Auburn for the first time in 2012.
While not exactly a surprise, the decision could prove to be a blow for an Auburn backfield not exactly swimming in depth. With stars Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb the only two true scholarship tailbacks on the spring roster, Gene Chizik already moved former cornerback Anthony Morgan to running back to shore things up. Incoming freshman recruit Tre Mason is expected to qualify (again, per his own Twitter feed) but has not yet officially been cleared and enrolled. If Mason for whatever reason does not clear the qualifying bar, the untested Morgan will be one injury away from likely seeing major carries.
Auburn would have other ways of dealing with this worst-case scenario -- athletic receiver/returner freshman Quan Bray is already slated to moonlight at running back -- but for a team with as much inexperience as the reigning national champions, it's one more headache Chizik and Co. would rather avoid.