Special Day For Tiger Senior

For this Auburn Tiger football player and his family, these are good times.

Auburn, Ala.--James Callier says the Auburn defense can play better and needs to keep on striving for improvement as the Tigers prepare for a high-powered passing attack from their homecoming opponent.

Louisiana Tech, which is averaging 341.2 yards per game in the air and 423.4 total yards, will be at Jordan-Hare Stadium for a 1 p.m. non-conference test on Saturday. The game, which will be televised on a pay-per-view basis only by The Auburn Network, is not a certain victory by any means, Callier warns.

Last Saturday night, his Tigers held the then No. 1-ranked Florida Gators to four touchdowns under their gaudy 48.8 points per game average in a thrilling 23-20 victory. Louisiana Tech is averaging 34.8 points per game, significantly better than Auburn's 22.3 average.

James Callier

Callier says, "In the film room, even after a huge win like that, and we are still like, ‘Why did you do that? You are still out of position here.' Man, if we can get these thinks worked out, we can have an even better game. There is always room for improvement.

"We need to make sure that Louisiana Tech doesn't sneak up on us in anyway, which they won't. We will be ready for them. We need to have a good week of practice, execute and take it up a notch as far as our intensity is concerned.

"We need to continue to play well together," adds Callier. "We played extremely well last week because we believed in one another. If we continue to do that, we should have no problems. We should only get better."

Tommy Tuberville says he will be working overtime to get the players and fans ready for a 3-2 Louisiana Tech team that the Auburn coach says looks very good in the film room. "Probably my toughest job as a head coach over the last few years is getting the team ready to play again," Tuberville says. "Not just the team, also the fans. We won that game, the one the week before, and the one before that because of the team and the fans' enthusiasm. That doesn't need to stop now. We need to keep on, keeping on. So I am asking our fans to put that back in their memory book and let's get on with the season because we have some tough games coming up and it starts this week."

Callier says that the victory over Florida was special for many reasons.Two of the main ones are that it was the senior's first win over his home state school and it was also the first time his father has seen him play in person since James was a seven-year-old youngster." His dad, James Callier, Sr., is a former NFL player who recently was released from a minimum security prison. Mr. Callier (who is James, Jr.) made his first trip to the AU campus last weekend. "He was running around smiling all of the time, cooking all of this food," the Tiger senior says. "He was kind of like a kid in the candy store."

James Callier (51) is a leader of the Tiger defense.

While waiting for his son at Saturday's pre-game Tiger Walk, the elder Callier said, "We are very proud of James and it is great to finally have a chance to see him play in person at Auburn. I am really enjoying this."

The son says his father enjoyed teasing him some, too. "Dad is dad. He is an old school ballplayer. He doesn't like this new style that we play. He was a bang and run all day type of player. He did say that he was proud of me and that he had a great time at Auburn because he hadn't been here. He enjoyed the festivities of the whole weekend." As thousands of other fans who joined James and James in Auburn Saturday already know, they were not alone.

Tiger Ticket Extra: His father, James Jr., played football at Mississippi Valley State and later in the professional ranks as a defensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins. Pro football's all-time leading receiver, Jerry Rice, was a freshman when Callier's dad was a senior at Mississippi Valley State. He also played against the NFL's all-time leading rusher, Walter Payton, who was at Jackson State at the time. "When I was little, I was around Dolphin players like Bob Griese, Mark Duper, Mark Clayton and Dwight Stephenson," Auburn's senior defensive end recalls. "I didn't know them as great football players, only as nice guys."

Callier's dad coached him in youth football until he was eight years old. It seemed to be a great situation to grow up in, but that changed quickly. That's when his father was convicted of drug-related charges and sent to what James calls a "country club" prison facility. Callier's dad was released on probation in February of this year after nearly 14 years in prison. Such an experience might destroy many families, but not the Calliers. "My dad remained a part of my life," James points out. "I could talk to him almost every night. He was around people who did a lot of things and got caught up in it. My mom (Linda) tells me that the others involved are out doing their own thing. My father was the only one who took it straight up. He didn't complain or turn on other people.

"As long as I live, I will respect my father for his loyalty to our family. Even though he was incarcerated, he set a good example for me by still being my father. I don't know many men who could help run a household being away like he was, but he did. He was strong for me when I needed to talk about a bad game or staying up late with homework after making a poor grade. He was always there. It may have been by touchtone, but he was there, and still is."


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