Early Start For Newcomers "Really Big"

Gus Malzahn says the early start for much of the 2014 class is "really big" for them and program

Auburn, Ala.--With Big Cat Weekend getting much of the attention in Auburn football circles, the really big news of the week came on Tuesday when 22 of the Tigers' 24 signees from last year reported to campus to start classes.

Getting a head start on academics and college life is always important, but getting a jump on conditioning and football training is something Coach Gus Malzahn said is huge for the group and for the program.

"That's really big," Malzahn said. "They get extra time to train. There will be quite a few of those guys, more than likely, helping us out in the fall. I think it's very critical to get those guys working out and getting used to the college routine."

With only Devaroe Lawrence and Justin Thornton not with the team already, and both expected later in the summer, Auburn should get plenty of help from the newcomers. That is particularly the case on the defensive line as junior college transfer Davonte Lambert as well as high-schoolers Andrew Williams and Raashed Kennion may be counted on to provide depth at end for Coach Rodney Garner.

Because of that it is important they are ready to go when the team hits the practice field in August and will be training at a different pace with Strength & Conditioning Coach Ryan Russell until they're ready.

"They will be separate," Malzahn said. "Coach Russell will bring them along and all that. There will be a time when he feels like they're ready to be in with the older guys they will."

An added bonus for the newcomers this summer is a new NCAA rule that allows coaches eight hours a week to work with the players on conditioning with two of those hours available for film study. With more and more newcomers physically ready to play each fall, this should make them even more prepared from a mental standpoint when they are called upon in 2014.

"We've kind of started working on that," Malzahn said of their plans for the eight-hour weeks. "We don't have everything completely lined out but we're getting closer.Strategically we'll try to do the best we can for our players."

Auburn is expected to start fall practice Aug. 1. The season opener will be Aug. 30 at home vs. Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. on the SEC Network.

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