A Tiger who definitely wanted to be with them and couldn't be was redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Taylor Bourgeois, one of the most talented players on the team. Bourgeois announced Wednesday night that after three shoulder surgeries and reinjuring his shoulder again this week, it is time to give up the game.
"Taylor is a guy who put everything he had into it and tried to make it, but it got to the point where he just couldn't go," head coach Tommy Tuberville said. Tuberville noted that Bourgeois will stay on scholarship and help out as a student assistant coach. "He has been great for this team," Tuberville said. "We hope to have him around for at least two more years, maybe three."
"It hurts him," Tuberville added. "He said he never quit anything. When you do it for the first time...it's not quitting, he has no choice. The shoulder is just too weak and it moves on him too much. He and his brother both had this problem. After three surgeries, it is time to get on with your life. He finally realized that. I kind of wanted to pull the plug on him earlier, but we had him to find out for himself. We hate to lose him, but he will be around and he will help the younger guys."
Bourgeois said he hopes he will avoid another surgery by rehabbing the shoulder. He started the first four games last season at offensive tackle before being slowed by a shoulder problem that later required surgery and shut him down for the season. His position coach, Hugh Nall, says that Bourgeois is definitely one of the best linemen he has worked with and was a valuable player who could handle both tackle and guard equally well.
"As of today, this is it," Bourgeois said. "I popped it out again out the back and it just is not worth it. I have got to move on."
Bourgeois said it is going to be extremely tough to not be a part of the 2003 team that he has worked very diligently in rehab to get ready to be a part of. "It was just not mean to be," he said. "Coach Tubs is a great guy. He said (my education) will be paid for and everything. I am going to stay around the team. I don't know yet what my role will be, but you will see me around."
The Tigers fine-tuned the game plan at the football complex and then walked to Jordan-Hare Stadium for a dress rehearsal of the Southern Cal game. The coaches tested head phones and lined up in their game-time positions while the players drilled on game-day procedures for Saturday. The Tigers worked on the kicking game and special game situations.
Working out in shorts for a second straight day, the Tigers practiced in hot and muggy weather for approximately two hours. The Tigers have one more practice prior to the season opener against eighth-ranked Southern Cal at soldout Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"This is pretty good stuff," Tuberville said of the challenging opener that pits two Top 10 teams. He said he can't ever remember being in an opening day game with such anticipation as a head coach or an assistant at Miami or Texas A&M.
Tuberville says there has been so much buildup of this game that he is trying to low key the contest with his players to keep the on an even keel. "I just am kind of taking the path of saying, ‘Hey, let's go out and have fun and see where we are at. Let's play four good quarters (vs. USC) instead of two like we did last year.' If we are going to be a Top 10 team we need to put four quarters together early rather than late."