Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's offense is predicated on pre-snap eye candy and playmakers making defenders miss in space. One of the primary weapons in that offense will reportedly be out for the foreseeable future.
According to Brandon Marcello of 247Sports, rising junior speedster Eli Stove suffered a torn ACL earlier this month and underwent surgery to repair the injury prior on March 13. As a result of the injury, Stove will be out for the remainder of spring practice and his status for the 2018 season is up in the air based on how his rehabilitation goes.
Stove caught 29 passes for 265 yards for the 2017 SEC West champion Tigers, and added 315 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. His primary roles within the offense were as an outside running threat on jet sweeps and as a slot threat in an offense that made him one of the quick pass receivers in Malzahn and coordinator Chip Lindsey's run-pass option offense. Whether it be as a receiver, runner or decoy, defenses -- especially linebackers -- were forced to respect Stove's versatility which opened up the offense for the rest of the Tiger playmakers.
His absence is a significant blow to a wide receiving corps that settled into quite a groove late in the 2017 season. Leading receiver Ryan Davis settled in as the star doing many of the same things that Stove does, and will undoubtedly demand even more attention if Stove's injury keeps him on the shelf once toe meets leather in 2018.
Darius Slayton and Will Hastings emerged as deep threats throughout the year, and Nate Craig-Myers has the size and speed to live up to significant recruiting hype that followed him to Auburn in 2016.
Auburn kicks off the 2018 season in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Sept. 1 against Pac-12 foe Washington.