McCalebb Living Dream Season

Auburn sophomore Onterio McCalebb talks about preparing to face Oregon in the BCS title game.

Auburn, Ala.--For Auburn sophomore running back Onterio McCalebb, the 2010 season is one he won't soon forget. It's not just because the Tigers are 13-0 and SEC Champions and preparing to play for the national championship, it's mostly because it almost didn't happen.

Signing with Auburn out of Fort Meade (Fla.) High, McCalebb failed to qualify and instead went to Hargrave Military Academy to work on his academics. Solid to Auburn the entire time, McCalebb had to pause for a moment when Tommy Tuberville and his staff suddenly departed and Gene Chizik and a new staff came on board.

Deciding Auburn was the place for him, McCalebb said the new coaching staff put him at ease with the things they said and plans for him on offense. Perhaps the biggest thing is something that is playing out this season and that was the talk of championships.

"I didn't think it would happen because me, coming out of high school and I went to prep school, I was recruited by Tommy Tuberville," McCalebb said. "Just when it came time for me to come here, that's when Coach Chizik came. I really didn't know what was going to go on, but ever since I've been here we had a chance to go the national championship. That's the only thing we talk about: Being a champion."

With the chance to win Auburn's first national title since 1957, McCalebb and his teammates will go over a month between games by the time they step on the field in Glendale to take on Oregon Jan. 10. Even though there is plenty of work left to be done before the game the sophomore said knowing what's out there makes it a very fun thing to do.

"It's exciting that we get to go out there and practice for the national championship," McCalebb said. "Because most teams out there wish they were in the spot that we're in. We just go out there every day and do like Coach Chizik says, have fun and do what we do."

Rushing for 565 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman in 2009, McCalebb came back stronger and better prepared for life in the SEC his second time around. The results have been huge for both he and the Auburn offense. Carrying the ball 89 times for 763 yards and nine touchdowns, the speedster heads into the national title game averaging a whopping 8.6 yards per carry this season. He said for him it has been all about improving in all phases of the game.

"I feel a lot more comfortable than I did last year," McCalebb said. "I feel better in every aspect of the game, including block and all that kind of stuff."

Third on the team in rushing, McCalebb is a key part of the most productive offense in Auburn history under the guidance of coordinator Gus Malzahn. Time and time again the 2010 Tigers have come from behind to win games using both the offense and defense. With one more game to go and facing a very talented and explosive Oregon team, McCalebb said the Tigers have complete faith in everyone and "All In" is just that.

"It's very important for a player to have belief in the coaches, because Coach Malzahn knows what he's talking about," McCalebb said. "I think he's a genius. When he calls a play and says it's going to work if we execute `this,' it really does work. It's just like when Coach Chizik says he expects us to win by this many points, it does. Everything coach has said this year has happened. All we have to do is go out there and do our part and execute."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories