Vandy's Stadium Familiar Turf To Auburn Player

This Nashville area Tiger is headed home as Auburn prepares to open Southeastern Conference football play on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Saturday's Southeastern Conference football opener will be a homecoming for Auburn players from the Nashville area like fullback Jake Slaughter.

In recent seasons, the Tigers have spent more time recruiting players in Tennessee than is traditionally the case and the starting lineup features starters such as tight end Cooper Wallace from Nashville and offensive tackle Mark Pera from Memphis. Auburn's starting punter Kody Bliss and No. 1 field goal kicker, John Vaughn, are also from the Nashville area.

Jake Slaughter

A redshirt sophomore from Brentwood Academy in suburban Nashville whose stock is on the rise, backup fullback Slaughter is returning to familiar territory for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. contest. "I am excited about going home," he says. "I am going to have a lot of family and friends at the game. That is very exciting. We have already found tickets for everybody so that is not a problem."

Slaughter looks like he has found a permanent position at fullback with the Tigers after bouncing back and forth between offense and defense his first two years at AU. Last Saturday against Georgia Tech he gained seven yards on his first chance to carry the football as a running back since his senior season at Brentwood Academy. As a senior in high school he rushed for 810 yards and nine touchdowns while also catching passes for 400 yards. He made 140 tackles at linebacker his senior season.

Jake Slaughter runs for seven yards at Grant Field on Saturday.

"I wanted to get in there and get the job done," Slaughter says. "I was excited when they called my number the first series."

Slaughter says he is feeling comfortable at fullback and has learned a lot from his position coach as well as senior starter Brandon Johnson, who has helped the sophomore adjust to making the move back to offense from linebacker, something Johnson did himself.

Slaughter notes that the Tigers need to step up their performance level this week. "We all know we are better than we are playing," he says. "I think we are all ready to come out this week and show everybody real Auburn football. I believe that is what we are going to do."

There is a possibility that Slaughter will be going nose to nose with a couple of rivals from his high school days. Outside linebacker Moses Osemwegie and cornerback Dominique Morris helped ruin Slaughter's final high school game. "We played those guys from MBA (Montgomery Bell Academy) in the state championship game my senior year and they beat us by one point. We really need to show them what we have got. It will be exciting to go back there and try to get a win."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Another Tiger from Brentwood Academy, freshman field goal kicker John Vaughn, says he won't feel like he is on foreign turf at Vanderbilt Stadium. He was named offensive MVP of the state championship game played on Vandy's campus his junior season. "I have played there five times and I like kicking at the stadium," he notes. "It is like playing at home for me because we played there so much in high school." Vaughn says the Tigers are down after falling to 0-2, but not out. "Our goal is to win the SEC and nothing is hurt yet in that respect. We just have to focus and get on it."

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