Hugh Freeze has spent a significant portion of the offseason addressing the Tigers’ weaknesses along the offensive line and on the defensive side of the ball. Now the offensive guru has turned his attention to the skills position with two big-time pickups from the transfer portal today. 

Nick Mardner, a wide receiver from Cincinnati, and Brian Battie, a running back from USF, are transferring to the Plains for the 2023 season. 

For Mardner, transferring to Auburn will reunite the 6-foot-6, 215 pound receiver with his former wide receivers coach Marcus Davis.

"He’s like family," Mardner said in a 247Sports interview. "We were tied back to Hawai’i in ‘21 and he was a big part of my development. I think I played my best ball with him. That’s like family."

In his one year with Davis at Hawaii, Mardner caught 46 passes for 913 yards and five touchdowns for the Rainbow Warriors. After that successful season, Mardner transferred to Cincinnati in 2022 and finished last season with 19 catches for 218 yards and three touchdowns. 

With Mardner joining the passing attack, Freeze and his staff looked to fill the void left by Tank Bigsby. Bigsby is one of Auburn’s most prolific running backs of all time and Jarquez Hunter is poised to take over the starting spot. 

He will have help in the running back room with Brian Battie joining the orange-and-blue for the 2023 season. 

A three-year contributor for the Bulls of USF, Battie earned 2,035 yards on 305 touches and 10 touchdowns through 31 games, including an explosive 1,186 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground last year.

"They’ve got a nice plan setup, and I feel like I definitely fit in what they’ve got running," Battie said in a 247Sports interview. "I think they’ve got some big things coming this way."

A smaller back at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, Battie joins a crowded running back room that includes Hunter, Damari Alston and incoming freshman Jeremiah Cobb, the No. 7 running back in the nation according to 247Sports. 

Auburn’s transfer portal class is ranked No. 23 in the nation according to the 247Sports database.

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