AU Practice One: News, Notes & Quotes

Ricky Parks is out, the quarterbacks show their stuff and head coach Gus Malzahn discusses the opening day of Auburn's preseason football practice.

Auburn, Ala.--One of Auburn's promising young players, redshirt freshman tight end Ricky Parks, has been kicked off the football team.

That was the word from head coach Gus Malzahn on Friday night after his Tigers completed a workout that lasted approximately three hours on the opening day of preseason drills.

Commenting on Parks' departure, Malzahn said, "He has been dismissed for violation of team rules. Like I have said before, we have high expectations for our players, on and off the field. We wish him nothing but the best."

Parks, 6-4, 263 pounds, is from Hogansville, Ga. He was a heavily-recruited performer at Callaway High School, where he was primarily a quarterback.

With Parks gone the Tigers are down to two tight scholarship tight ends--juniors Brandon Fulse and C.J. Uzomah. Another player who could help at the position is senior fullback Jay Prosch, who has been training as an H-back.

The biggest question going into preseason is who will emerge as the No. 1 quarterback with returnees Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier trying to win the job along with juco transfer Nick Marshall and freshman Jeremy Johnson.

Nick Marshall throws a pass while wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig watches in the background.

"The first part of practice we let the two older guys that we know went through spring...we let our two new guys kind of sit back and watch and see how everything went. Then the second part the two new guys got all of the reps in the rotation.

"I would say overall, I bet it was very equal (number of reps) between the four of them all day."

Commenting on the new quarterbacks, Malzahn said, "They both have very live arms. The ball comes out their hand very well. They get the ball out quick, which is very critical to what we do offensively."

Malzahn said there is "no doubt" it is a challenge to work with four quarterbacks who are competing to be the starter. "I really like our strategy about trying to divide things up," he said.

Auburn's new head coach noted his staff is evaluating how well the QBs pick up the offense, their leadership skills and their ability to avoid turnovers.

Commenting on Marshall, Malzahn said, "He has very good arm strength--there is no doubt. Not just the long throws, he throws the short throws real hard, too. It is just going to be a matter of him learning the offense and at times when to put touch on the ball."

Jeremy Johnson throws a pass at his first college practice.

Commenting on Johnson, the head coach said, "Jeremy has run a similar offense before so a lot of the communication stuff he has got down. It is just a matter of learning a few new schemes. He has also got an outstanding arm, too. The ball comes out of his hand extremely well and we recruited him specifically for this offense."

The early part of practice featured the returning players while the new guys got extra attention later in the evening. "The second part of practice we really slowed things down and tried to spend quality time with our young guys--really at every position," Malzahn said. "I felt like we really needed to do that. We will do the same thing tomorrow and see where we are at."

In other news and notes:

*Safety Demetruce McNeal was held out of practice due to what Malzahn said was a medical issue. The coach said the senior should be back on the field soon. McNeal missed the final spring practices due to undisclosed personal issues, prompting the coaches to move Josh Holsey from cornerback to safety. "We really expect him to make a strong recovery," Malzahn said.

*Malzahn praised his veteran players for helping prepare them for the start of practice at the players only voluntary workouts this summer.

"That has been very encouraging," he said. "I even saw that today. Our veteran guys, and they know we have got some talented young guys, but they are really trying to help them.

"We talked to our team about coming together. I'm very proud of our old guys as far as the aspect of helping their teams and really being there for the young guys. That means a lot going forward.

Freshman defensive tackle Montravius Adams arrived at Auburn after being one of the nation's more heavily recruited prospects.

*Defensive end Keymiya Harrell, who had ACL surgery in the spring, isn't ready to compete for playing time. Malzahn said he hopes to see Harrell back in action soon and noted for "the most part" the team is healthy.

*Kenneth Carter made the move from defensive tackle to end in spring training and is competing for a starting spot. The senior was an end at Greenville High School so he noted that he is comfortable on the outside as well as tackle, where he saw extensive playing time his first three seasons for the Tigers.

Asked if he has a preference for tackle or end, Carter said, "Wherever the coaches want me to play is fine."

Carter noted that he feels like he is in excellent condition following the summer workouts run by the new strength and conditioning staff as well as the player organized practices at which he and the other seniors helped the newcomers learn assignments. "We had a lot of good, intense workouts,"?he said.

Carter, who is currently 6-4, 280 pounds, said he feels quicker than in the past because he was able to replace fat with muscle during the offseason workouts that started in January and ran through last week.

*Another senior defensive end, Nosa Eguae, said he believes the Tigers are in good enough shape to handle the up-tempo style Malzahn is looking for this season. "Now it is up to us to practice that way every day," Eguae stated.

*Junior offensive guard Chad Slade said he has higher expectations for the line and the offense in general. The returning starter said he is not alone with so many of his teammates determined to bounce back from the Tigers' horrible performance last fall.

"There are so many guys on this team trying to be leaders, you can't just pick out one or two guys who are the leaders out there on the field," he said. "We are taking the attitude to go out there and work hard every day and take that into the season game by game."

*The Tigers will return to practice for a Saturday evening session and will practice again on Sunday evening.

Malzahn Video, Post Practice

More Notes and Discussion:

Auburn Football Notes, Part 8

Notes, Part 7

Notes, Part 6

Notes, Part 5

Notes, Part 4

Notes, Part 3

Notes, Part 2

Notes, Part 1

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