Secondary Help On The Way For Tigers

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about the help the Tigers will receive from several key signees in the secondary.

Auburn, Ala.--One area that Auburn was looking for help in the Class of 2004 was in the secondary where the safety position was one of concern for much of last season. With four signees capable of playing right away Coach Tommy Tuberville says that he feels good about what they were able to bring in this year.

The most obvious and one of Auburn's biggest names in the secondary is Thompson High's Tony Bell. A 6-2, 210-pounder with good speed and awareness on the field, Bell is considered one of the top safety prospects in the country. Tuberville says he was obviously a key recruit for the Tigers this year.

"He was the number one defensive back in the state," Tuberville says of Bell. "He's a big guy and he can run. I've seen guys like him with his height, speed and athletic ability, he can really make a difference. I think he can make a difference next year and that's what we're looking for.

"A lot of us can go out and get players that are eventually going to play, but Tony is the type of guy that can help us next year. That is the reason it was so important that we try to get him to Auburn. He's got friends here and I think he's going to be a heck of a ballplayer. He's going to be a tremendous asset to this program."

Joining Bell at safety could be a couple of newcomers. Athletic linebacker Steve Gandy could get a shot at safety to begin with as well as Tristan Davis. Gandy, a 6-1, 190-pounder with good speed and quickness, could play either linebacker, but is expected to get his first look in the secondary. A speedster that could play cornerback as well, the 5-11, 188 Davis is a fierce tackler that may begin his career at safety.

"We'll start him at safety and see what happens," Tuberville says of Gandy. "He's a tremendous athlete with a lot of skills. He's a hard worker. Just watching him and the things he does and by talking to his coaches he's the type of guy we really want on our team. Steve is a good guy that is really going to make a lot of headway for us.

"Tristan Davis is a guy that you look and watch and he reminds you of Travaris Robinson," Tuberville adds. "We could put him at wide receiver and he would probably have a chance to play for us. "We're going to start him at safety because of his athletic ability, but he could also play corner. He's your proto-type nickel back because he could play Will linebacker and also put him in there and play nickel defenses. He's a tremendous athlete and probably has the best lateral movement of anybody that we signed."

While the safety position appears to be in good shape, the Tigers didn't address the cornerback position as well as most would have liked. After having commitments from both Dee McClure and Corey Spells during the month of January, the Tigers wound up signing just one player for the position in speedster Anthony Campbell and he may not be there very long. Tuberville says that despite the low number he feels good about the spot heading into next season.

"When he gets here we're going to find the best place to put him because he's an athlete," Tuberville says. "He came to camp and played corner and running back, but he could play wide receiver. We have four or five of those guys. Brad Lester could do the same thing and play four or five positions. We'll start them out in a position where they want to play and give them the opportunity to do the best they can.

"Tristan Davis could be a corner," Tuberville says. "We had a chance there late to get one or two more, but Anthony Campbell could be a corner. With David Irons coming in it really became a position where it didn't make a lot of difference. We signed some good guys last year in Patrick Lee and Courtney Denson. We think we're going to be fine. This is the first year we felt like we had the number at defensive back that we need."

Auburn will open spring practice Feb. 29 and the annual A-Day game is scheduled for March 20. The Tigers open the regular season Sept. 4 at home against Louisiana-Monroe.

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