Back In the Lineup Again

Senior John Sullen has bounced back from injury and will be counted on Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Despite missing the early part of preseason practice with a back problem, big John Sullen will be in the starting lineup again when the Auburn football Tigers open their season on Saturday night vs. Clemson.

The senior was able to make an impressive comeback that landed him at spot at the top of the depth chart as the Tigers prepare travel to the Georgia Dome for their opener in Atlanta against the defending ACC champion.

"Starting late and installing a new offense was difficult, but I know that Coach (Jeff) Grimes is going to play the best five," Sullen said. "If I was there or if I wasn't it was just going to have to be what it was."

Part of Sullen's job will be to assist starting center, Tunde Fariyike, who took over the position from Reese Dismukes, who is suspended indefinitely after an arrest early Saturday morning for public intoxication. Auburn's coaches made the decision to flank Fariyike with returning starters at the guard spots with Chad Slade, who had been splitting his practice time between guard and tackle, taking the starting spot at right guard.

"Tunde is super smart," the senior noted. "He's going to be a doctor."

Fariyike, a redshirt sophomore, played in every game last year on the punt protection team, but only saw action at center vs. Ole Miss. "We have all kinds of faith in him that he'll be able to get the job done," Sullen said.

"The center has to be the smartest person on the field, quarterback included," Sullen said loud enough for quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who was sitting close by, to hear. "The center has to be the smartest person on the field because he has to know what we're going to do and he has to know what the defense is going to do, also. With his intelligence that helps a lot."

John Sullen is 6-5, 313 pounds heading into his final season of college football.

Also listed No. 2 on the depth chart behind Fariyike at center for the opener, Sullen said he will do whatever he needs to do for the team. Coaches have mixed him in at center "every now and then" in practices, Sullen pointed out so he knows what to do.

"We never know how Coach is going to work until he tells us something," the guard said of Grimes. "We get here and we roll with the punches."

Avery Young won the starting spot at right tackle, which Sullen credited to the true freshman entering fall camp with the right mentality.

"He came in with the ‘I'm going to make my name known' mentality and he has," Sullen noted. "As a true freshman coming in from high school, his technique was levels above where a true freshman's normally is. He moves like a big D-end."

Sullen added that all the true freshmen offensive linemen, a group of seven, have worked hard. "There's nothing that sets one of them away from the rest of them, I guess you could say. They gelled right in and did whatever they had to do."

Auburn's other starting offensive lineman for the opener will be tackle Greg Robinson, a redshirt freshman who will line up next to Sullen.

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