A significant contributor on the 2013 SEC champion Auburn team will miss all of the 2014 season due to injury.
Head coach Gus Malzahn told reporters Friday that offensive lineman Alex Kozan, who started every game for the Tigers last season at left guard as a redshirt freshman, had recently undergone back surgery that will cause him to miss the entire season. Malzahn explained that the injury occurred when the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Kozan was working out back home in Colorado.
“He injured his back while he was home lifting during the summer. He came back, we tried to rehab it, do some different things and he tweaked it,” Malzahn said, per the Ledger-Enquirer. “The doctors just felt like it was the best thing for him and his future to have surgery. He will miss the season.”
Kozan was named Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America last season, and Malzahn had high expectations for the redshirt sophomore in 2014.
“That’s a big blow for our guys up front with the type of year he had and the type of player he is. With that being said, we do have quality depth up front,” Malzahn said. “We will kind of mix and match probably the first week or so, and we’ll see what happens with that.”
With Kozan out, senior Chad Slade moved from right to left guard and junior Avery Young, who started at right tackle last season, moved to right guard. The rest of the line consisted of junior Patrick Miller at right tackle, sophomore Shon Coleman at left tackle and senior Reese Dismukes at center.
Dismukes admitted it’s a “tough” thing to lose a guy like Kozan, but that the unit will have to move forward in his absence.
“That’s not what you want to hear. One of your guys, especially one you put a lot of work in with, to go down,” Dismukes, a three-year starter, said. “It’s tough. You ache and hurt for him knowing he wants to be out there with the guys. You’ve just got to be there for him and work with him and hope for the best for him.”
Kozan, a native of Castle Rock, Colo., was a four-star recruit coming out of the 2012 class. He redshirted his first year on campus before earning the starting role as a redshirt freshman. He was named to the preseason All-SEC second team by the league media and named to the Outland Trophy watch list.
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