Bluechip Safety Thrilled To Be A Tiger

Former Valley High star Erique Florence discusses his transition to college football at Auburn.

Auburn, Ala.--For most, the half-hour drive from Valley to Auburn is just that, a half-hour drive. But for Erique Florence, the drive to his new home on the Plains was much more--it was a lifetime in the making.

"It was like a dream come true," the Valley native says. "As I said before, I dreamed of playing Auburn football and now I'm here so I'm trying to make the best of it."

The 6-foot-2, 187-pound true freshman entered his first fall camp needing to transition to the safety position after playing quarterback as a senior at Valley High School.

"Right now, I'm still kind of getting into the flow of safety, but the all-star games kind of helped me a little bit, too," says Florence, who played in the Under Armour All-American game in January and the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game in December. He is rated as Scout.com's fifth ranked safety in the nation in the 2011 recruiting class.

Florence noticed a big difference in practice not long after he took the field for the first time as an Auburn football player this week. "It's definitely faster than high school, but we prepared all summer for this and it's here now so we've just got to get with the feel."

Erique Florence is shown during his first week of college practice.

Fellow true freshman Christian Westerman says he felt that the incoming freshman class had bonded quicker than any group he has been a part of during his athletic career. Florence agrees with Westerman's assertion and says that knowing he can count on his fellow freshmen has helped in the transition to playing college ball.

He adds that everyone on the team has that same confidence in their teammates. "They don't want to have a bad day to let everybody else down the same way we don't want to have a bad day to let them down so we all try to push ourselves knowing that we got somebody beside us that's going 100 percent as well."

The opportunity is there for incoming freshmen to contribute right way as Auburn's roster of scholarship players is still well short of the limit of 85. Florence, who has already gotten some reps with the first and second units on defense, says he doesn't feel any pressure from having a geat opportunity to step in and play right away.

"When you go to a Division 1 school, you go to contribute," he says. "You don't go to watch or stand around. If I wanted to go somewhere where there wasn't competition and we didn't have a chip on our shoulders, I would have went to a smaller school where I know I would be the man. But I chose to come to Auburn because there was a lot of competition.

"Either way, Auburn is tough and physical so you know we're going to have to play every down and every day and every game," the Valley High star adds.

Florence says he believes the true freshman class is ready and willing to play an integral part for this year's team, despite their inexperience. "I think we will contribute a lot. We will help the team a lot this year, and in the years to come we'll get better and better. It'll be awesome."

The answer Florence gives when asked if he has any personal goals for himself this season speaks volumes about his attitude and the team-first mentality:

"I just want to win," he says. There is a real chance he will have an opportunity to contribute to that happening.

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