Mike, who is from Goshen, Ala., played linebacker in high school. He came to Auburn with dreams of being a great college middle linebacker, but he grew into a great defensive lineman.
Playing football for Auburn, Mike was the kind of individual who always worked hard and who was always a joy to be around. Mike was always a team guy.
It is certainly no surprise to me that he has developed into an outstanding football coach and he is a great guy, too.
Tracy Rocker did an oustanding job while he was at Auburn coaching his players and I know everyone at Auburn was disappointed to see him go to the Tennessee Titans, but Auburn couldn't have picked a better candidate to take Tracy's place than Mike Pelton.
Like Tracy, Mike has an Auburn background and he loves Auburn. I think he will pick right up where Tracy left off developing the defensive line. He has his challenges in front of him because there is talent to work with, but the Tigers will be young on the defensive front this season, particularly at tackle where the 2011 team has to replace Nick Fairley, Zach Clayton and Mike Blanc. Those three players played a major role in Auburn's national championships season.
I see this as a great opportunity for Tracy to have the chance to coach in the National Football League and further his career. It is also a great opportunity for Mike so it is a win-win situation for everybody.
I am not sure if the general public has an idea of what the players are doing at this time of year, but they are staying busy. Every year around this time the players go through their "mat drills" where they get up early in the mornings and go through demanding workouts that take them to the limit.
It tests the players physically and mentally. It is not the kind of thing the players like to do, but it is necessary to develop the type of mental and physical football toughness a team needs to be successful in the fall.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.