With very little experience returning this season, the Tigers resorted to moving veteran safety Junior Rosegreen to cornerback this past spring, something Coach Tommy Tuberville says he does not want to do this fall.
While there are some names in the hunt for the starting job, most noticeably redshirt freshman Montae Pitts and junior Lamel Ages, the player who could lock down the job may very well come from the 2003 recruiting class. Even though David Irons Jr. and Patrick Lee have been the most talked about of the class, the sleeper could be athletic Eric Brock from Benjamin Russell High in Alexander City.
A versatile player who was a standout wide receiver as well as basketball point guard, Brock followed his heart when he signed with Auburn in February. After a productive junior season in which he was part of perhaps the state's top defense on the way to the 5A title, Brock battled nagging injuries as a senior. Still, his play was good enough to earn him a scholarship to Auburn. He hasn't looked back since, coming to campus early to get a feel for college life and SEC football.
"It has been a long summer," Brock says. "I feel good after coming in early and getting to know some of the guys and getting familiar with Auburn University. I came in about five weeks ago. I got a few classes out of the way and hit the weight room a little bit."
Up to 196 pounds on his 6-0 frame, Brock has added the necessary muscle to help him compete against the big receivers he will see in the college game. While that had something to do with his decision to come early, in the end he notes that it was mostly for the interaction he would be able to have with his future teammates. Some of that was done on the practice fields in seven-on-seven sessions featuring the offense versus the defense in passing drills.
"I was able to get one of them in," Brock says. "Most of my classes interfered with that so I wasn't really able to get the seven-on-seven that I needed. It was still a big help coming this summer. They really should set it up for a lot more freshmen to get the opportunity to come in early and get familiar with your coaches and get to know them on a first name basis.
"I just took the advice people were giving me saying I should come in early," Brock adds. "I knew I had to come in and work out and get bigger, and faster and stronger. I'm just here to do what I can, to learn the system and be able to do whatever's possible."
Brock is shown in action during his senior season for the Wildcats of Benjamin Russell.
For Tuberville the cornerback position may be the most watched of all when the team begins practicing on Wednesday. With a half dozen players vying for the position, the coach says it will be an interesting race to observe. Still, it comes down to being able to win the job and not get it by default.
"All of them will be given a chance to play," Tuberville says of Brock, Lee and Irons. "Depending on what happens with those guys depends on what happens with Junior Rosegreen. We'll start Junior out at corner and he'll also work at safety.
"There are going to be several of these guys that we're going to look at real hard," Tuberville adds. "You just never know until we get them out there. The good thing is that most of them have been out there and working physically towards getting in decent shape for two-a-days. Guys that just walked on campus really don't understand what they are about to get into."