Kyle Davis’ absence in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday turned out to be more than just that.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn announced during his Tuesday press conference that the sophomore wide receiver had been dismissed from Auburn "for breaking team rules."
"We wish him nothing but the best moving forward," Malzahn said.
It appears that whatever violation that prevented Davis from traveling with the team to LSU was the last straw in a year that had already seen him miss all of spring practice while he took care of “personal business” and be suspended for Auburn’s Week 1 win over Georgia Southern.
"First off, I want to thank Coach Malzahn and the Coaches Staff (sic), My Brothers, and my Auburn Family, for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to be a part of an amazing football program and family," Davis wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
"Auburn will always hold a spot in my heart... moving forward, I would ask that the media respect me and my family's privacy. War Damn. Everybody has a story. KD."
Tuesday’s dismissal ends an Auburn career that featured as much highlights as it did unfilled potential. Davis, a 6-foot-2, 213-pound former four-star recruit out of Loganville, Ga., burst onto the scene as a freshman last season when he caught a pair of 40-plus-yard passes against Clemson and Arkansas State in Weeks 1 and 2. The latter was a leaping, one-handed grab that set up an Auburn touchdown.
But while Davis has been adept at making those types of plays, he was rarely consistent for the Tigers. He followed those two games last season by catching seven passes for 127 yards over the next four games, then caught just three passes for 36 yards over the final seven games.
Davis ranks third for Auburn with 210 receiving yards this season despite playing in only five of seven games, but that total has come on only seven catches — the sophomore caught a career-high three passes against Mercer, but just one each in the other four games he played.
The wide receiver is the 14th player to leave Auburn since the end of the 2016 season. Wide receiver/running back Stanton Truitt, linebacker Cameron Toney, offensive lineman Deon Mix, running back/defensive back Stephen Davis Jr., quarterbacks Tyler Queen and Woody Barrett, defensive backs Marlon Character and Michael Sherwood, wide receiver John Franklin III, and defensive linemen Antwuan Jackson Jr. and Byron Cowart all transferred.
Safety Markell Boston, quarterback Sean White and Davis were all dismissed. Wide receiver Duke Williams was dismissed during the 2015 season, and running back Jovon Robinson was dismissed prior to the start of fall camp in 2016.
“Any time, as a head coach, a player has to be dismissed, that hurts,” Malzahn said. “But every situation is different. We've got a lot of great kids. Anytime that happens, it's just another opportunity for someone else. So that's the way I look at it.
Without Davis, Auburn’s wide receiving corps consists primarily of juniors Will Hastings and Ryan Davis, sophomores Eli Stove, Nate Craig-Myers and Darius Slayton, and freshman Noah Igbinoghene.
Sophomore tight end Sal Cannella got the bulk of the playing time at the Tigers’ big slot position in place of Davis against LSU, but he caught just one pass for 7 yards on three targets. Sophomore Marquis McClain is another player who could potentially pick up some of Davis’ snaps.
"We all love Kyle," Craig-Myers said. "That's our brother. We wish nothing but the best for him."