Tigers Thrilled With All-Star Experience

Lee Ziemba, Zac Etheridge and Josh Bynes talk to Inside the Auburn Tigers about their Senior Bowl experiences as they hope to take the next step in their football careers.

Mobile, Ala.--Offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, linebacker Josh Bynes and safety Zac Etheridge followed their unbeaten senior season as Auburn football players with a 24-10 victory at the Senior Bowl all-star game on Saturday.

"It was fun," said Ziemba, who started at right tackle for the winning South squad in the game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. "I love to compete out here and I love playing ball. It is a blast."

Ziemba started his first two seasons at Auburn at right tackle, but has been a left tackle the last two years.

"I have been playing right tackle a lot in practice this week and I also played left tackle some in the practices," he said. "They were moving me back and forth, but going into the game I knew I was going to stay at right tackle. I was able to get enough practice doing it that I felt comfortable out there."

Lee Ziemba (73) blocks University of Washington linebacker Mason Foster.

Ziemba said he is glad he accepted the invitation to play in the all-star game. "I enjoyed the practices and the game," the All-American said.

Ziemba was one of the most impressive players at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. He consistently blocked whoever the North team put in front of him.

Asked if he felt like he helped his pro stock, Ziemba said, "I feel good about what I did, but it is not for me to say whether I improved my stock. I want the opportunity to play pro ball and I did everything I could this week to show them I want to make that happen."

The big tackle pointed out that he enjoyed playing and practicing with the top college football players in the country. "Just meeting all of these guys is special," he said. "They are great guys and awesome players. It was a blessing."

Ziemba said he met with plenty of representatives from NFL teams throughout the week. "That was really interesting," he said, noting they asked lots of questions.

Lee Ziemba signs an autograph for a young fan at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday night.

Next on the agenda is a trip to the Atlanta area where he will work out with Competitive Edge Sports and its training guru, Chip Smith.

Josh Bynes looks to the sideline for a defensive signal from the South coaches.

Bynes, who was a key player for the Auburn defense through the unbeaten 2010 season, had a big smile after his team won in Mobile on Saturday.

"The all-star experience was great," Bynes said outside the Auburn locker room after signing countless autographs and getting "War Eagle" greetings from fans who swarmed the field after the game.

"Overall I think the week was a great experience," said Bynes, who will head to Boca Raton, Fla., to work out and get ready for Auburn's Pro Day and hopefully another event, the NFL Combine. He said that from what he has been told he will receive an invitation to the combine.

"The best part of the game was winning and doing it with guys you worked really hard with all week in practice," Bynes said. "The game was incredible and I really enjoyed my teammates."

Bynes didn't start the game, but played a significant amount of the contest. He was credited with one tackle in the game and looked to have a solid performance in pass coverage from his middle linebacker spot.

"The whole week was good for me because I was able to meet with a lot of NFL teams," he pointed out. "It was an interesting experience. Those guys want to see how you are off the field and get a good idea about your personality. They want to know what kind of things you are interested in off the field."

Josh Bynes led Auburn in tackles as a senior.

Bynes reported early to the Senior Bowl and missed Auburn's on-campus national championship celebration. "I wanted to be there, but the Auburn Family understands," he said. "My next goal in my life is to play NFL football and I want to do everything possible to make that happen. Like any student who has graduated who doesn't have a job lined up, that is the top priority."

Bynes said that after winning the national championship it is fun to think back to what happened during his senior season of football. "With the win here I went 15-0 this season," he said with a big smile. "It can't get any better than that."

Zac Etheridge is shown in action playing safety for the South squad.

Like Ziemba and Bynes, Etheridge got the rock star treatment and was swarmed by fans for autographs and pictures as he was leaving the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday night.

"I had a lot of fun all week," Etheridge said. "My favorite part was being around guys from so many different schools and coming together in a week and playing a game together," he said.

"It was also good for me to interview with so many NFL teams," he said. "They ask a lot of questions."

On Saturday playing as a reserve safety for the South, he was credited with two tackles and had another one negated on a penalty play. He also played on special teams as did Bynes.

Etheridge said he is headed to south Florida to do training to prepare for Auburn's Pro Day where he will do NFL combine style drills for scouts who come to the AU campus.

Asked if he feels like he improved his stock with the pros during the week in Mobile, he said, "I feel like I did some good things, but there is still plenty of room for me to improve. I have a while to keep working on those and keep reaching for it to try to have a great pro day."

Zac Etheridge rests on the sideline late in the game while the offense has the football.

For Etheridge the all-star game ended a memorable year. Twelve months ago he was still wearing a neck brace and it was uncertain if doctors would allow him to ever play football again after being seriously injured in the 2009 Ole Miss at Auburn game.

Fourteen regular season wins later, with a national championship game victory and an all-star win, it has been a memorable ride for the safety from Troy, Ala. "It truly has been a great year," he said with a big smile. "It really has."


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