Bowl Game Brings Back Good Memories

One of Auburn's more talented football players discusses his team and its bowl trip to Nashville.

Auburn, Ala.--Ronnie Brown and the rest of the football Tigers are taking a break to spend time with their families over the Christmas holiday before resuming preparations on Friday for the Music City Bowl.

A year ago in Auburn's bowl victory, Brown was the star of the offense and Capital One Bowl Most Valuable Player as he led the Tigers to a 13-9 victory over Penn State in Orlando. Brown rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns at the Capital One Bowl to cap a season in which he rushed for 1,008 yards and 13 TDs. He says that game vs. Penn State was the highlight of his collegiate football days.

This year has been a different story for the redshirt junior, who was injured in the third quarter of the Tennessee game. He missed the next two games as Auburn defeated Arkansas and Mississippi State and never became the major factor in the offense that he was in 2002.

Brown comes into Auburn's New Year's Eve game vs. Wisconsin with 384 rushing yards and three touchdowns. His average per carry is down from 5.8 to 4.7 yards and he has run the ball 82 times compared to 175 a year earlier when he was the main man at tailback after Carnell Williams was injured in the Florida game.

Brown has 1,732 career rushing yards and 352 career yards as a receiver.

Like Williams, Brown has asked the National Football League for a written opinion on where he projects as a potential pro draft pick if he decided to bypass his senior season at Auburn. "Yes, I did send off for it," Brown says. "I don't know how much it will be effective or not, but I just sent it just out of curiosity, I guess. I just sent it off and hope to see how things come back."

Based on his junior season, Brown is not expected to be a first round draft pick. That might be a different case with Williams, who says that unless he is projected as a first round draft pick, he is planning to stay at Auburn for his senior season.

When asked what round he would have to be projected to go in before he would consider skipping his senior season to go pro, Brown says, "I really can't say. Sometimes those kind of things get you in trouble a little bit. You start listening a little bit to what people are saying, but you really have no idea until the date that draft day comes and then the people call your name. So, it is really about how you feel about yourself and what you think you need to do."

Brown says that he plans to make his own decision on returning for the 204 season at Auburn independent of what his teammate and friend, Williams, decides to do. "It is basically just how I feel and some of the things that I have got to work on," Brown says.

Auburn's first ever trip to the Music City Bowl will be its first bowl game meeting with the Big Ten's Badgers. Brown says that he had has heard that Wisconsin is a physical team that likes to overpower opponents in the Big 10, a league know for its large and strong players. "We have been hearing a little bit about how they are big and physical," Brown says. "In the SEC we have a lot of speed, but we kind of just want to come out and prove that we can be physical also and just try to get things done."

Brown and his teammates practiced five times last week on campus before breaking for the holiday. Coach Tommy Tuberville says he likes what he saw after giving his team nearly a month off from on-the-field practices before beginning bowl workouts. The Tigers will reassemble in Nashville the evening after Christmas and start practices at Vanderbilt University the following day.

Brown says he is looking forward to playing Wisconsin on the 31st at The Coliseum in Nashville and predicts his teammates will feel the same way.

"I feel real well right now with the break that we had over Thanksgiving and some of the time we have had off," Brown says. "I think that gave a lot of people time to get back healthy and get to 100 percent."

The junior tailback predicts he and his teammates will be ready to give a good effort vs. Wisconsin despite suffering through a disappointing 7-5 season. "I think as time gets closer to the bowl game, I think people will actually start to get into that competitive mode," he says.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Brown, who redshirted his first season at AU after a stellar career at Cartersville, Ga., High, is close to graduation. He finished his collegiate classwork in communications last semester and is scheduled to earn his degree in May following an internship...Brown says he is excited about getting to play on the home field of the Tennessee Titans. "It is a lot of peoples' dreams just to play on a field like that. I think we will be pretty excited about that because we never really know when this is going to end, or whatever, when you football career is going to end. So, I think everybody's dream as a football player is to play on an NFL field."


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