Young Lineman Moving Up The Depth Chart

This Auburn football player talks about how spring football practice is progressing as he tries to win a starting job.

Auburn, Ala.--Halfway through spring training, one of the experiments on offense that looks to be moving full speed ahead is the decision to make Ben Grubbs an offensive guard.

The 6-3, 289-pound redshirt sophomore has moved up to first team on the depth chart at left guard ahead of Jonathan Palmer and Rhett Autrey. Last season, Grubbs made a successful move from defensive end to tight end and developed into one of the team's better blockers.

The Auburn coaches were so impressed with his blocking skills, they decided to move him inside to see what he could do as an offensive lineman.

"Right now I am learning kind of slow," Grubbs tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I try to take in all the information and the different terminology with the help of my coach and my teammates. They are telling me what to do and what not to do so it's coming along pretty good."

Grubbs played linebacker in high school so the guard experience is a new one for him. "You have got a lot of different things to do on different plays," he says. "You've got to know the center's calls and you have to know what to do with the calls and there is different footwork and different steps. It's harder than being a tight end, but playing tight end helped me out a lot because some of the steps are similar to what we do at guard. It's not totally different, but it's a lot different than a tight end.

"At guard you have got a defensive tackle and a noseguard and on some plays you have got to put your hands on both of them," Grubbs notes. "That's a lot different from tight end because at tight end I had a wide space to work with and that's it. I didn't have to worry about getting killed from my left and right side so that's a lot different, but I'm catching on."

Ben Grubbs played in nine games last season for the Tigers as a redshirt freshman after moving to tight end in preseason practice.

Learning to pass block has been the biggest adjustment, Grubbs says. He has been concentrating on that part of his play in Auburn's second week of spring practice.

Grubbs and the other offensive linemen are getting plenty of one-on-one contact work going head to head with Auburn's defensive linemen in individual drills. Grubbs spends a lot of time in those drills and 11 on 11 work blocking noseguards T.J. Jackson and Josh Thompson, two of the stronger players on the team.

"T.J. is tough and so is Josh," Grubbs says. "Both of them are short and strong. They are real strong. And, with T.J. being my roommate, I have got to show him I can play. I enjoy going against them because it's a lot of competition because I know T.J. is going to give it all he's got. I know Josh is going to give it all he's got, too, so I have to match that."

Grubbs has also had showdowns with big Timmy Duckworth, the largest of the AU defensive linmen, who is currently working at noseguard. "I am not going to say he's easy to block, but I'd rather block him than T.J. or Josh because we call Josh ‘Stump' and I call T.J. ‘Stump' and you know it's hard to move a stump. With Timmy, he's about my height so I can get on him quicker, but with T.J. and Josh you have to adjust your pad level."

Grubbs and the Tigers will return to the practice field for a full contact workout on Thursday that will include a half scrimmage. The session will be watched by high school coaches from across the southeast on campus for Auburn's annual coaching clinic.

The offensive guard and his teammates will have a Friday afternoon workout and then on Saturday morning will have the second major scrimmage of the spring at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn's annual spring football game is set for a week from Saturday on March 20th at 1 p.m.


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