How Gunner Britton, new-look Auburn O-line is preparing to face the ‘freak shows’

By Matt Cohen |
Gunner Britton’s approach to building relationships with his new teammates isn’t going to happen on the field. That isn’t quite as personable, he said, as spending time with other Auburn players off the field.
So the new Auburn offensive tackle has weekly golfing outings with them.
Britton played at least once a week over the summer with other players including kicker Alex McPherson and who he says is the best golfer on the team: new quarterback Payton Thorne.
“They’re legit and love playing against each other while I’m over there making sure I can find my ball,” Britton said.
The golf part is fun, but it’s slice of what will be among the biggest picture questions for Auburn in fall camp: How does a team full of at least 40 transfers like Britton and true freshmen fit together?
Britton may very well be blocking for Thorne in Auburn’s first game and because of the Michigan State transfer’s post-spring-practice arrival, golf — far away from shoulder pads — was the first time the duo got to play together.
“So now with the portal, being able to kind of win now,” Britton said. “I believe it was TCU last year did a lot, where they added like 40-something guys from the portal, and everybody’s like, ‘What are they doing?’ And then they go play for a national championship and you’re like, ‘OK, well maybe there’s a method to the madness.’”
Much of this experience is all new to Britton. From a football facility and resources that hardly resemble his time at Western Kentucky, to something as simple as taking a video of the media members standing at his table Friday to show others what it looks like to play in the SEC.
Western Kentucky often had rosters full of transfers during Britton’s time there. So while he is used to frequent personnel changes, he’s now had to build connections with fellow transfer tackle Dillon Wade from Tulsa and center Avery Jones from East Carolina who may all be starters on the offensive line.
“The first couple months, you’re like, ‘I’m the new guy,’” Britton said. “You’ve got to earn everyone’s respect, but I think we’re all kind of gelled together.”
Britton said building a relationship with Wade — who came with new offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery from Tulsa — is helpful in learning the new scheme because Wade already knows the offense. So too, has working with new offensive line coach Jake Thornton who has been teaching Britton new offensive line techniques now on a team that will run the ball far more than Western Kentucky’s air raid offense.
While Britton was already at Auburn for spring practices, the now completed roster in fall camp has shown him the difference in competition level between Conference USA and the SEC. In no place did Britton see that more than looking at roster depth.
“Obviously, you’ve got some freak shows here,” Britton said. “You see Alabama, you see Georgia, you see Tennessee, Arkansas — every one of them has freak shows, and that’s a big difference. But everybody, really, the difference is there’s 100 guys here that are really, really good athletes, whereas Western I was probably 40 to 50, is kind of how I would say. That’s the big difference.”
Britton played Arkansas while at Western Kentucky, so he’s seen the SEC “freak shows” before. Now he gets that every day in practice. Asked who those “freak shows” are at Auburn, Britton immediately said transfer jack linebacker Jalen McLeod and freshman Keldric Faulk as well as transfer defensive lineman Justin Rogers — all players Britton will block in team drills.
That’s the relationships he’ll build on the field — even on different sides of the ball. The time in practice now building off the summer to create as much of early chemistry among players playing together for the first time.
That will probably still call for a few golf balls fished out of the woods.

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