Tigers Eager to Hit Field For Preseason

Auburn players say they are ready for some football as the Tigers prepare to hit practice on Wednesday afternoon.

Auburn, Ala.--Daren Bates, the most experienced player on the Auburn football team's defense, will be opening preseason practice for the final time on Wednesday as his Auburn Tigers hit the practice field.

Bates, an outside linebacker who led the Tigers in tackles last year, is expected to be a starter for a fourth consecutive season. He started at safety as a true freshman and moved to outside linebacker for his sophomore year and has stayed there since.

Bates said the Tigers had a good summer at voluntary workouts and have set their team goals high.

"Everybody was in grind mode," he said. "We are trying to get 10 wins, 12 wins, get back to the national championship. Everybody was on the same page on just getting better--faster, stronger, gaining weight, losing weight."

Another veteran player, defensive end Nosa Eguae, said he is especially eager to get back in the mix for playing time after missing spring training with a shoulder injury. "The shoulder is 100 percent," he said. "It is feeling great. I will give a shout-out to that whole training staff. They did a great job this past eight months getting me back to where I need to be."

"It has been December since I have been back on the field and I am getting antsy," he said. "I am ready to get back out there with my brothers and play the game that I love."

Nosa Eguae will be a redshirt junior this fall.

Eguae, who has muscled up in the offseason, has gained 10 pounds and is currently 268. "Last year I played some at the three technique (tackle)," the defensive end noted. "This year I want to command more of a presence when I do go down there. I just want to be a jack of all trades and go wherever my coaches want me to go."

Following Wednesday's opening session the Tigers are scheduled to practice starting at 4 p.m. daily through Saturday before taking Sunday off.

The Tigers will have the first two-a-day sessions on Tuesday, August 7th. The coaches will have their players' undivided attention through August 15th prior to the start of fall semester classes that begin the following day.

Heading into his fourth season as head coach of the Tigers, Coach Gene Chizik has a record of 30-10 while directing the Auburn program.

Last season the Tigers finished 8-5 and they were 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference. With most of the key players back from that team expectations among the players and coaches are for improvement on offense and defense as well as with the SEC and overall records.

Auburn opens the season with a neutral site game on Sept. 1st at the Georgia Dome vs. Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Clemson, the 2011 ACC champion, defeated the visiting Tigers last year, but overall Auburn holds a 34-12-2 advantage in the series.

Asked what he believes the key to success this preseason will be for his team, Bates said, "Everybody has to study the play book with the new coaches. Everybody has to be prepared, come ready to practice every day."

In other news and notes:

*Bates said that freshman running back Jovon Robinson, a U.S. Army All-American from Memphis, has impressed the senior during summer voluntary workouts. He said that quarterback Jonathan Wallace from Central High in Phenix City is already showing signs of being a leader.

While Wallace is likely to redshirt, Robinson is expected to be a part of the five-player battle for playing time at tailback along with senior Onterio McCalebb, sophomores Tre Mason and Corey Grant plus redshirt freshman Mike Blakely. Chizik said he expects Robinson to make a serious push for playing time.

*The team's other quarterback signee in 2012, Zeke Pike, was sent home for the summer after being arrested on public intoxication charges. Chizik has yet to say if Pike will be allowed to practice with the team this preseason.

*Senior wide receiver Travante Stallworth said that the summer workouts went very well. One of the players at his position who missed last season with a shoulder injury, Sammie Coates, has been impressive in the sessions. Stallworth said the redshirt freshman has a 45-inch vertical jump, great speed and the talent to really help the offense.

Sammie Coates is shown during spring practice. He has added more than 20 pounds in the past year and is expected to play at six-foot-two, 200 pounds.

*Bates said that a pair of newcomers have looked in the summer workouts--tailback Jovon Robinson from Memphis and quarterback Jonathan Wallace from Phenix City. The senior pointed out that Wallace is already showing leadership tendencies He noted that Robinson, a U.S. Army All-American, has shown good hands in the passing drills.

AU Practice Schedule (subject to change):

Aug. 1--4 p.m.

Aug. 2--4 p.m.

Aug. 3--4 p.m.

Aug. 4--4 p.m.

Aug. 5--Off

Aug. 6--4 p.m. (first day in full pads)

Aug. 7--morning and afternoon practices

Aug. 8--4 p.m.

Aug. 9--Off

Aug. 10--morning and afternoon practices

Aug. 11--4 p.m.

Aug. 12 (Sunday)--No practice (Fan Day), 2-4 p.m., Auburn Arena

Aug. 13--morning and afternoon practices

Aug. 14--Off

Aug. 15--morning and afternoon practices

Aug. 16--4 p.m. (Fall semester classes begin)

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