Wallace Takes Over Leadership Role At Tight End

Sophomore Cooper Wallace talks about his role at tight end and trying to get someone ready to step up as his backup.

Auburn, Ala.--For many Auburn fans, last weekend was spent watching football on Saturday to become more familiar with future opponents and check out the 2003 college football scene.

Many Auburn football players did the same thing as they got a chance to sit back and relax while watching games this past weekend. For tight end Cooper Wallace the day was a good one as he regained some of the weight he's lost the last month and watched some good football games.

Cooper Wallace

"I watched every single game on television," Wallace says. "It was good. That's basically like watching film getting to see Tennessee, Georgia and LSU. It was exciting to see them and what we're going to come up against in a few weeks. They're all definitely good teams, but all beatable. It's kind of fun to sit there and size them up a little bit. I was watching the defensive ends and kind of sizing them up a little bit."

Auburn's most experienced and talented tight end, Wallace is the unquestioned leader of a group that has been changing since the opening week of play. With the losses of Robert Johnson and Lorenzo Diamond off last year's team, sophomore Steven Ross made the move to tight end in the spring and did well picking up the system.

He looked good most of the early fall as well, but depth problems in the offensive line forced him to give his time at tackle for the better part of practices. That wasn't a huge problem because of the move of Anthony Mix to tight end, but last week Mix made the move back to wide receiver leaving the depth in question once again.

Steven Ross splits time at practice between tight end and tackle.

The job of backing up Wallace now goes back to Ross with true freshman Cole Bennett and redshirt freshman and former defensive tackle Ben Grubbs also vying for playing time. Wallace says his biggest job right now is trying to keep everyone up to speed on what they are doing offensively.

"I've definitely been talking to Cole a lot and Ben Grubbs lately," Wallace says. "Now Steven is back and he knows a lot too, but it's still pretty new to him running a lot of these routes. I help them out when I can, but I still need as much coaching as they do."

While Ross and Bennett have progressed nicely since two-a-days where they were working at tight end, Grubbs has just started to pick up some of the ins-and-outs of playing offense on the college level. A linebacker and tight end in high school, he has shown glimpses of his athleticism since moving to tight end and has impressed Wallace with his ability.

"He's done really good, especially getting all that work this past week," Wallace says. "That was really good for him. He's a really strong kid and a really, really physical ballplayer. He can run extremely well for someone that weighs 290 pounds. He runs a lot better than I thought he did."

Ben Grubbs

Expect all four tight ends to get some action this week against Western Kentucky, but that doesn't mean that the Tigers are planning Grubbs for mop up duty. Working hard on the game plan for the defending Division I-AA national champs, Wallace says this opponent is very impressive on film, but this week's effort will be all about executing on offense and taking care of business.

"We're definitely playing against ourselves this week just like we did against Vanderbilt," Wallace says. "If we go out there and take care of business, get our work done and execute then it really shouldn't be a problem. Western Kentucky has a good team and they are going to throw everything they have at us. They are the defending champions from last year. They know how the win.

"We respect them and if we go on the field thinking it's no big deal then the news will be talking about us getting upset. I don't think we're going to overlook them at all. We're going to watch as much film on them as we do with anybody. We know they are going to come in here looking for that upset and we're going to play hard."

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories