For the Tigers, the first practices for the coming season have traditionally been for newcomers only, as signees and specially invited walk-ons got several days by themselves to impress the coaching staff before the full squad began workouts. They also participated in meetings with position coaches to learn the system being taught by the AU staff.
This year, the freshmen will report on Monday, but when they take the field for the first practice at 10 a.m. on Wednesday they will be joined by the entire roster and the emphasis for that session will be getting ready for a challenging season-opener vs. Southern Cal. The freshmen won't get the extra meeting time with the coaching staff, either.
Coach Tommy Tuberville makes it perfectly clear that he dislikes the new NCAA preseason practice rules. "Now they are all coming at one time," he says of his players. "We have no individual time with freshmen. I still don't understand who came up with that deal."
The coach admits that he could have the returning players report later than allowed to continue the freshman only workouts, but says that isn't a good idea with the nationally-ranked Trojans coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium on August 30th.
"The great thing for us this year is that almost every freshman has been on campus working out, at least for the month of July, and some for June and July, so we have a head start on conditioning and what we are going to ask of them physically," Tuberville notes. "There is going to be that eye-opening experience of having to go out there that first day and Kelcy Luke is standing by Jason Campbell. Instead of Kelcy Luke and Courtney Denson getting all the reps with the freshmen running routes, they are going to be thrown into the pack. Nobody can explain to me yet why we have done this."
Luke has been on campus this summer working out with his new teammates.
The new preseason practice rules limit teams to one three-hour practice per day for the first five days of workouts with no full pads practices during that time. Tuberville says the coaching staff's plan is to use two hours for full squad drills and the last hour will be a special teams only session for the first five days.
The Tigers are scheduled to work out at 10 a.m. on Thursday and Friday this week and 9:30 a.m. on Saturday before they put the pads on for a 4:30 p.m. session on Sunday.
The first two-a-days sessions will start on Monday, August 11th with a 9 a.m. workout and a 4:30 p.m. practice. The new practice rules prohibit back-to-back days of two-a-days so the Tigers will practice twice on the 13th, 15th and 18th with single morning practices on the 12th, 14th, 16th and 19th. All of those sessions will be at the intramural fields and are open to fans.
Players will be available to take photos with and sign autographs at the annual Fan Day, which is set from 1- 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 9th at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.