McNeal Dismissed From Auburn Team

Auburn's depth at safety got thinner on Saturday with the dismissal of senior Demetruce McNeal following his arrest.

Auburn, Ala.--It didn't take long for Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn to make a decision on the future of Auburn senior safety Demetruce McNeal following his arrest early Saturday morning for second degree possession of marijuana.

Despite a lack of depth at the safety spot and McNeal being the second-leading tackler for the Tigers last season, Malzahn announced on Saturday afternoon that McNeal is no longer a part of the program.

"After visiting with Demetruce, I made the decision to dismiss him from our team," Malzahn said. "We have high expectations both on and off the field for our players."

Booked early Saturday morning, according to records from the Lee County Detention Center, McNeal was released on $500 bond early on Saturday.

Also arrested on second degree possession charges were former Auburn linebackers Jonathan Evans and Jawara White. White gave up football in 2012 due to a medical condition and Evans has finished his eligibility.

Despite missing the first 11 practices for the Tigers this preseason because of a staph infection, McNeal was expected to play a key role on defense for the Tigers this season after finishing 2012 with 90 tackles. Now it clears the way for sophomore Josh Holsey to be the starter for the Tigers on opening night Aug. 31 against Washington State.

A solid contributor at cornerback last season for the Tigers, Holsey made the move to safety in the spring when McNeal sat out the final five practices dealing with "personal issues". Since that time he has taken over the role as the number one safety opposite Jermaine Whithead and according to Malzahn he's done a great job.

"Josh is a very savvy football player," Malzahn said. "He made the move and he really didn't miss a lick. He's got a lot of natural instincts and he's a guy you can count on."

In addition the Tigers will have former quarterback Kiehl Frazier to help out at the position if needed. With Ryan Smith and Trent Fisher currently the back-ups at the two safety spots, Malzahn said Frazier has gotten plenty of work since his move and could see some early playing time for the Tigers this season.

"He's really gotten off to a good start," Malzahn said of Frazier. "Coach (Charlie) Harbison's very excited about him and coach Johnson is, too. He understands football and he understands offenses and what they're trying to do with splits and everything that goes with it. I believe he's been working on the boundary and there's a good chance you'll see him out there in some capacity in the first game."

McNeal, who played at Banneker High in College Park, Ga., saw action in all 13 games in 2010. He made 24 tackles as a true freshman, including an important one in Auburn's BCS Championship victory vs. Oregon.

He started 12 games as a sophomore and finished with 45 solo tackles and 29 assists while forcing two fumbles and intercepting two passes. Last season he made 53 solo tackles with 37 assists while starting eight games. He also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.

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