For college football teams like Auburn that are counting on incoming players to contribute right away, this is an important time of year to get those guys prepared for the start of preseason practices in August.
In Auburn’s case there are four freshmen wide receivers that their position coach, Kodi Burns, and the rest of the offensive staff will be pushing hard to get ready to contribute right away. They are all on campus this summer and can learn a lot from their older teammates in addition to participating in the strength and conditioning drills.
In the summer workouts with the quarterbacks they can learn the pass routes and the timing required to be successful going against SEC-caliber defensive backs. Combine that with two hours of video study a week with the coaches allowed by the NCAA, and there is a real opportunity for talented and highly-motivated freshmen or graduate transfers to be prepared to play in the opening game.
This is a time of year when the leaders on a team need to step up and make sure everybody is on board working to get better even though it is mostly a period for individual improvement because you can’t put the pads on and you can’t have coaches on the field teaching offensive or defensive schemes.
An example of an Auburn player who can really make use of this time of the year is transfer John Franklin, who arrived in January and was able to go through winter workouts and spring training with his new team. The quarterback’s arm is plenty strong enough, he has leadership ability and is an excellent runner, but his passing accuracy needs to improve. This is the perfect time for Franklin to do something about that while building chemistry with the team’s wide receivers.
The junior quarterback is just one example. It would be difficult to find a player on the 2016 Auburn team, or any college football team, who can’t really benefit from hard work over the summer. I can distinctly remember kids coming out of spring practice that as coaches we had very little hope that they would be able to help the football team that fall, but when they arrived for preseason practice they were like a different person because of the time and effort they put into improving.
Players mature at different rates and times so sometimes there are good surprises waiting for the coaching staff when the pads go on again in August. Working in the heat of June and July with nobody around but your teammates isn’t nearly as exciting as playing games in the fall, but it is a part of a college football player’s development that shouldn’t be neglected. Other players around the country are working at getting better so you just can’t afford to not take advantage of every opportunity to improve.