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When wide receiver transfer Demetris Robertson arrived on Auburn’s campus Sunday, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo could hardly make out the ninth-grader he recruited as an assistant coach at Georgia years ago.

“I was telling him (Sunday) night,” Bobo said, “he’s a lot bigger than when I saw him when he was probably a 158-pound (high school) freshman.”

Now Robertson is a 190-pound, sixth-year senior, and his arrival marks one of the most compelling, most mysterious and certainly most important additions to Auburn football’s 2021 roster. The Tigers are notably short on pass-catching experience after losing their three leading receivers from last year. Before Robertson committed July 8, it appeared Shedrick Jackson would be the most seasoned presence in the receiver room, with 10 catches in three years.

In fact, Auburn’s returning receivers have combined for 23 career receptions to Robertson’s 99, making him a crucial snag for Bryan Harsin late in the offseason. Robertson’s familiarity with first-year coordinator Bobo might have been helpful in the recruitment.

“It wasn’t like this was a long-standing relationship, but there had been introductions; there had been conversations in the past,” Bobo said. “I think that always helps when each side knows a little bit about somebody and where they’re from and what they’re about. I knew a little about where he was from, his family, his brother, his dynamic. He knew about me. So there was a little bit of a comfort level.

“He looks good. He’s a guy who had explosive movements. He had short-area quickness. He had elite speed. And that’s something that we need on this football team. We need speed.”

The question will be how many of those traits Robertson still has. When Bobo watched him play at Savannah Christian Prep, the wideout was developing into one of the nation’s top prospects at his position. He earned 2016 Freshman All-American honors at Cal with 50 catches, 767 yards and seven touchdowns.

But a leg injury derailed his 2017 season, and after transferring to Georgia (which Bobo had left by that point), Robertson became a reliable depth option but never touched the ceiling he showed he could reach at Cal.

Whether he can return to that form and lead Auburn’s receivers will depend on how quickly he adapts to the new program after his late arrival. Robertson was finishing up academic requirements at Georgia and made it to Auburn after the start of fall camp.

“He’s not going to walk on the field tomorrow and know everything or be in the best shape,” Bobo said Monday. “But he’s here, and we’re going to work him to get ready. Hopefully he can be a strong contributor for us this year offensively and in special teams.”

The young group competing with Robertson for playing time this fall will include two players who Bobo recruited while he was at South Carolina: freshman Tar’Varish Dawson Jr. and sophomore Malcolm Johnson Jr. Bobo praised both for their speed and playmaking ability Monday.

Other candidates to watch for include returning sophomores Ze’Vian Capers, Kobe Hudson and Elijah Canion, who had a breakout performance in Auburn’s bowl game with 80 yards.

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