Former 4-star FSU WR commit: ‘I like Auburn’

Former 4-star FSU WR commit: ‘I like Auburn’

Devin Carter is planning to get on campus in the spring for a visit.

CARROLLTON, Georgia — The son of former Florida State running back, first round pick and Super Bowl-winning Dexter Carter, Devin Carter pledged to the ‘Noles back in April of 2023. Despite being a Class of 2026 recruit with years to go, the legacy made an early choice. But in January, Carter backed off his commitment and reopened his recruitment.

Last spring he was in Auburn for a visit to check out Hugh Freeze’s program and meet with Marcus Davis and he returned in the fall for a couple of Auburn games. Now with a wide open recruitment, Carter is working to schedule a return to the Plains.

Next man up: Auburn’s Chaney Johnson prepares for increased role

The UAH transfer has yet to play 20 minutes in an SEC game this season. That should change Saturday

Bruce Pearl has long called his 10th Auburn basketball team the hardest-working of his tenure on the Plains.

And Chaney Johnson has been called the hardest-working player on that team by his coaches and teammates all season.

Now it’s time for that relentless mindset to be put to the test in a starting role. As Jaylin Williams recovers from his knee injury for the next few games, Auburn (20-6, 9-4 SEC) turns to Johnson, the first-year transfer from UAH, for a much larger role at the power forward spot.

“He’s been our hardest worker since he got here,” center Dylan Cardwell said. “So at the end of the day, it’s Chaney Johnson. I’m not expecting anything less from him. … Just trust your work, and he’s put in more work than anyone on the team.”

After two seasons as a standout at Alabama-Huntsville, the Thompson, Alabama, native transferred to Auburn in the offseason to fill Auburn’s need for frontcourt depth. He knew the jump from Division-II to the SEC wouldn’t be easy, and he made a name for himself in the gym right away.

What drives that effort from Johnson?

“If I’m putting in the most work or working myself out as hard as I can, after my career is over I won’t have any regrets,” Johnson said Thursday. “So why not just give it all that I’ve got? Coming in here, seeing these guys getting in the gym kind of motivated me a little bit more. I worked hard in D-II, but it was just a different level. I was like, ‘I’ve got to step my game up a little bit more.’ These guys pushing me day in and day out really, really set that flame.”

Johnson averages 3.8 points per game this season on 47.1 percent shooting and has been one of the most effective defenders in the SEC. He’s yet to play 20 minutes in a conference game, though, and that will likely change Saturday at Georgia (15-11, 5-8 SEC).

Williams, Auburn’s second-leading scorer, went down with a knee injury in the Tigers’ rare home loss last weekend to Kentucky. An MRI on Sunday revealed no extensive damage, and Williams won’t require surgery. It was an overwhelmingly positive diagnosis given the initial fear of a tear, but Auburn will still be without one of the most efficient forwards in the league for some time. As Pearl said Thursday, Williams’ timeframe for a return is unclear, but Auburn will begin to evaluate his progress next week.

Johnson, who seems to be getting more comfortable as the season has progressed, said he’s motivated not just because his team needs him to step up in Williams’ shoes. He’s also not been pleased with his performance in every game this season, including Kentucky, where he was scoreless and didn’t provide the spark he wanted to after Williams went out with 10:40 remaining.

“It kind of threw me off a little bit,” Johnson said. “Seeing him get hurt, now I’m expecting him to come in the game and make a big change. I really didn’t affect the game how I wanted to. Just trying to be better for this team, not just because J-Will is hurt. Just being better, period.”

Of course, it will be more than just Johnson who will need to step up. Johni Broome will be relied upon as a consistent presence down low. Chris Moore and Chad Baker-Mazara will see an uptick in minutes at the small forward spot. And even someone like Dylan Cardwell could need to play more at center if Broome takes some of Williams’ minutes at the 4.

“To replace Jaylin, it’s going to have to be obviously by committee,” Pearl said. “It’s no secret that when Jaylin Williams has played well, we’ve won. Like, I don’t think we haven’t won when he played well.”

When Williams has scored 10 or less points this season, Auburn is just 6-6, including a 1-5 mark when he scores 7 points or fewer.

Tipoff in Athens, where Auburn will play without Williams for the first time since the 2019-20 season, is set for 5 p.m. CST on SEC Network.

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