The biggest change, both literally and figuratively, is 6-foot-6, 320-pound Auburn transfer Calvin Ashley’s decision to transfer again, this time to Florida A&M, without ever participating in a practice at FAU.
“Very surprising for us,” FAU coach Lane Kiffin said. “Disappointing. But wish him the best of luck.”
Prior to the beginning of camp the Owls had been counting on Ashley to start at right tackle.
Lane Kiffin also announced on Tuesday that promising freshman wide receiver Eyin Cole will miss the season after tearing the ACL in a knee.
The wide receiver unit did receive a boost on Tuesday with wide receiver Adrian Bryant, who signed with FAU out of College of the Sequoias in December, enrolled in January only to leave after a couple of weeks because of a family issue.
Ashley missed the first couple weeks of practice with an illness that he said caused him to lose 30 pounds. Ashley appeared only briefly at fall camp’s second practice, but did not participate in drills. As the Owls practiced on Tuesday, Ashley cleaned out his locker, placing the last of his possessions in a loaded SUV before heading north to Orlando.
Married, Ashley said he decided to leave FAU because he wanted to be closer to his wife.
Kiffin signed two transfers for the Owls 2019 signing class to bolster the right side of the Owls’ offensive line. Both are now gone.
JUCO transfer Lavante Epson left FAU following spring practice after he couldn’t beat out Nick Weber for the starting spot.
Perhaps in preparation for the absence of Ashley to start the season, FAU moved redshirt freshman Doug Johnson from the backup left tackle spot to backup right tackle in recent days, where he is now competing with fellow redshirt freshman Marquice Robinson for the starting spot.
Kiffin signed Bryant with the idea that he would compete for a starting spot immediately in a wide receiver unit depleted by transfers and Jovon Durante’s decision to declare early for the NFL draft. While Bryant could still make an impact this season, his late arrival almost certainly means that production won’t come early in the season.
In compliance with NCAA rules, Bryant won’t don full pads until Saturday, at the earliest. He also missed all of summer conditioning, which means he’ll have to get into football shape. And since Bryant left before the start of spring football, he has little grasp of the playbook. But wide receivers tend to have an easier time learning new positions and schemes than players on other units.
“It should really be one of the easier positions, especially in our system,” Kiffin said. “We’re not very complicated. We play right and left. It’s not near where it used to be. It should be a spot, that and corner, where they are usually the two quickest spots to pick up.”