AUBURN | Kerryon Johnson was just about to wrap up a very successful spring practice when it happened — again.
Johnson suffered a high ankle sprain late in the first quarter of Saturday’s A-Day game.
“Last day, last drive I was supposed to be in, it was unfortunate but it's football, it happens. There's nothing I can do about it now,” Johnson said. “It's better than it happening in August or September.”
Johnson would know. He suffered a similar injury last fall against Mississippi State Oct. 8 and never completely returned to full speed last season. He underwent shoulder surgery following his freshman season.
Johnson had an x-ray during the game, which was negative, and was wearing a boot afterwards. But he’s pretty confident his latest setback isn’t too serious.
“It's not as bad as it was the first time,” Johnson said. “It's doing all right. I just got to protect it and get it right.”
Johnson still finished as the game’s leading rusher with 47 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, an average of 6.7 yards per carry. He also caught a 17-yard pass.
“He’s been healthy all spring,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We just think it’s one of those things. It doesn’t alarm me or anything like that, but he’s had an excellent spring.”
Kamryn Pettway, the Tigers’ returning starter at tailback, didn’t play in the A-Day game for precautionary reasons. Pettway rushed for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns last season despite missing two games with an injury.
“Pettway has had a very good spring and he's been healthy. That was just a coach’s decision to get him to fall,” Malzahn said.
Pettway and Johnson didn’t get much work during Auburn’s first two scrimmages this spring to give a trio of backups more experience and an opportunity to compete for the No. 3 running back position.
In Saturday's A-Day game, C.J. Tolbert had nine carries for 30 yards and a touchdown, Malik Miller eight carries for 42 yards and a touchdown and Kam Martin eight carries for 30 yards.
“The running backs, I know Tim (Horton) is really trying to get quality depth at that position,” Malzahn said. “All those young guys have really got a chance probably the last two weeks or three weeks to rotate with the ones too. I know when you do that you can really evaluate your running backs. You can’t have enough depth in our league at running back.”