JaTarvious Whitlow out at least 1 month with knee injury

JaTarvious Whitlow out at least 1 month with knee injury

AUBURN, Alabama — Auburn running back JaTarvious Whitlow will miss at least one month of the season after undergoing a surgical procedure on his left knee Tuesday.

He will miss four to six weeks, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.

Whitlow, a sophomore, is Auburn’s starting running back and leads the team in rushing with 554 yards and seven touchdown on 110 attempts. He had his knee scoped and did not tear a ligament.

“Obviously he’s an impact player on offense,” Malzahn said. “The good thing for that is we do have a deep group at running back.”

No. 12 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC) is off this upcoming weekend, then plays Arkansas on Oct. 19. A road trip to No. 5 LSU follows Oct. 26 and then a home game against Ole Miss. The Tigers will have a bye the weekend of Nov. 9, then play Georgia on Nov. 16.

“We’ll have a plan for Arkansas, and we’ll continue to do that until we get him back,” Malzahn said. “We do feel like he’ll have a pretty good chance before the end of the season.”

Kam Martin (5.1 yards per carry) is Whitlow’s backup, but the Tigers are also expected to try to work in true freshman D.J. Williams, the No. 16 running back in the Top247 for 2019, and redshirt freshman Harold Joiner.

“It sucks,” Martin said. “Boobee is one of our guys. He led the league in rushing and stuff, so it sucks. Just gotta step up.”

Shaun Shivers serves as the Tigers’ third-leading tailback, but he did not touch the ball in the Tigers’ 24-13 loss at No. 10 Florida last week.

Martin, a senior, by far has the most experience of the healthy running backs. He carried the ball 13 times in the last three weeks, but did not touch the ball in the Tigers’ victory at Texas A&M during that time.

“I’m ready for the challenge,” Martin said. “I did it before. I’m just ready to step up, man. No pressure. I’m just ready to step up.”

Williams has played in only one game this season after dealing with a shoulder surgery in the offseason and a hip flexor in September. He carried the ball seven times for 32 yards in the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ 56-23 blowout of Mississippi State on Sept. 28.

“DJ is a baller,” Martin said. “He’s ready to step up. … All those guys in the room can lead.”

Whitlow has powered through several injuries during his Auburn career. He suffered a shoulder injury in the second half of the 2018 season, which limited his availability and effectiveness on the field. He fell short of 1,000 rushing yards, marking the first time in a decade the Tigers have not recorded a 1,000-yard rusher.

Whitlow also served as Auburn’s Wildcat quarterback, a formation that was not utilized against the Gators last week.

Injuries have plagued Auburn’s starting running backs, and limited their production or kept them out of games in each of the last four seasons — Kamryn Pettway (2016), Kerryon Johnson (2017), and Whitlow the last two seasons.

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This story is developing.

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