Veteran center Nick Brahms, one of the most experienced players on the Auburn football roster and entering his sixth season on the Plains, has retired from football.
Brahms struggled to recover from a knee procedure that kept him out of the Birmingham Bowl last year.
“He had the injury going into the bowl game and then came back and is just not there physically to be able to go out there and play and to really to play at the level that he wants to play at,” Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin said.
Brahms had 33 career starts for the Tigers and was one of the team leaders during the inquiry into the football program in February. Brahms will remain in school pursuing a degree in pro flight.
Despite the injury, Brahms has remained involved with the program and with his teammates.
“Nick has been at every practice. He has helped our players out,” Harsin said. “He has helped the offensive line, and he’ll continue to keep doing that. I am very proud of him, just for his efforts.”
Junior quarterback T.J. Finley, who was named the starter on Sunday, said he was looking forward to leading the offense alongside Brahms.
“After the bowl game... I was begging him to come back. So for him to come back and not be able to play, I know that crushes him,” Finley said.
Tate Johnson, a former four-star recruit who has very little playing experience, will take Brahms’ place at center.
Harsin also revealed that Zykevious Walker, a junior defensive tackle, will be out for the Mercer game, but he is confident in his recovery later in the season.
In naming Finley the starter, Harsin defended the decision and supported the quarterback heading into the season opener.
“I think anybody that was at our practices knew that he won the job from a while ago,” Harsin said.
Harsin cited Finley’s toughness as well as his command of the offense as two reasons that he won the job. Oregon transfer Robby Ashford is listed as Finley’s backup, while Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada is third on the depth chart. Calzada is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
Finley relished winning the starting gig, but he remained focused on the job ahead, recognizing the importance of not just winning the job but taking advantage of the opportunity.
“As soon as I found out the news yesterday, my dad actually punched me in the chest and told me, ‘Son, the job isn’t done. You can be happy now that you won the job and that it’s released, but the job isn’t done,'" Finley stated.
Auburn and Finley have an opportunity to grow, starting the season with five consecutive home games, including matchups with Mercer and San Jose State. For Finley, it’s a chance to prove the doubters wrong and take control of the offense.
“We’ve got his back,” Harsin said. “This is his opportunity to go out there and prepare himself for Saturday and then hopefully play really well.”
Auburn is set to kick off the 2022 season inside Jordan-Hare Stadium against Mercer on Saturday at 6 p.m. CST.
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