AUBURN — Tigers starting left guard Alex Kozan is out for the season due to a back injury.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Kozan, who started all 14 games last season, injured his back while lifting at home in Castle Rock, Colo., over the summer.
"He came back, we tried to rehab it, do some different things and he tweaked it," Malzahn said. "The doctors just felt like it was the best thing for him and his future to have surgery. He will miss the season.
"Obviously 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. I'll take you back to the spring: Avery Young played some guard. That was good. We will kind of mix and match probably the first week or so, and we'll see what happens with that."
Kozan, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound sophomore, was expected to return at left guard and be one of the future leaders of the line, if not the entire offense.
HOLSEY BACK AT CORNERBACK: Josh Holsey fully participated in practice for the first time since tearing his left ACL on Oct. 17.
The junior returned at cornerback, where he started six games as a freshman in 2012, rather than at boundary safety, where he started six games before his injury last season.
“He’ll know both the corner and the safety,” Malzahn said. “We’re just trying to think through the year. … We had him out there at corner today, but he does understand the boundary safety very well.”
The 5-11, 192-pound Holsey had 17 tackles and an interception last season. His return at boundary corner moved Mincy back to field corner, and bumped Jonathan Jones down to backup field corner, though Mincy’s suspension may allow Jones to start the opener.
“Josh is going to be our X-factor this year in the secondary,” Whitehead said. “He's going to make some plays at corner. He's going to make some plays at safety. He's going to make some plays at dime. He's going to be all over the field. I can't wait to watch.
QUICK HITS: Artis-Payne and Grant split reps with the first team offense. Peyton Barber was in the backfield with the second team during Friday’s practice.
Sammie Coates, D’haquille Williams and Louis were the first team receivers with Brandon Fulse at H-back. Tony Stevens, Melvin Ray and Quan Bray were the second team wide outs with C.J. Uzomah at H-back.
Austin Golson, Devonte Danzey, Xavier Dampeer, Jordan Diamond and Robert Leff made up the second-team offensive line.