AUBURN, Ala. — Sophomore-to-be running back Mike Blakely is no longer with the Auburn football team and no longer enrolled in school, Auburn associate athletic director Kirk Sampson announced Wednesday night.
Blakely’s departure doesn’t come as a complete shocker, based on his inconsistent play on the field and some puzzling controversy off it.
Blakely had an enigmatic season statistically, struggling in a third-string role behind Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason. He totaled 33 carries for 153 yards, a healthy 4.6 yards-per-carry average; but that included ill-timed fumbles lost against Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas. He only appeared in six games, and only twice in seven games after Oct. 6. During that stretch, Blakely did not make the trip to Vanderbilt for what the coaching staff said was an injury, without disclosing details.
In early November, Blakely tweeted “up bored spending my last days in AU wisely!change is coming in my life” and other messages indicating he might be leaving the program. Blakely later clarified his comments to say he was referring to a break from school session, but never was made available to reporters the remainder of the year.
A four-star recruit from Bradenton, Fla. Blakely picked Florida over Auburn out of high school in a tight race that included offers from Clemson, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee and USC. But in May 2011, Blakely decided to leave Florida – unable to mesh in a transition to a pro-style offense – and ultimately latched on with the Tigers when they were running Gus Malzahn’s spread offense. This year, the Tigers switched themselves to a pro-style attack.
Blakely is the fifth Auburn non-senior to leave the team after the firing of coach Gene Chizik. Defensive end Corey Lemonier declared for the NFL Draft, offensive lineman Christian Westerman transferred back home to Arizona State and quarterback Clint Moseley and offensive lineman Eric Mack have decided on their own to depart the program.
Auburn still returns 1,000-yard rusher Tre Mason, junior college signee Cameron Artis-Payne and walk-on turned scholarship player Corey Grant at the running back position. Tim Horton was named running backs coach last Friday, moving over from tight ends following Rich Bisaccia’s decision to take a job with the Dallas Cowboys.