New Position and New Status For a New Season

<b>Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a summer series of feature articles profiling current and former Auburn atheletes.</b>

Tampa, Fla.-–Few Auburn football players have been as happy this summer as junior defensive back Kevin Hobbs.

A walk-on from Tampa by way of Texas Southern, the junior has earned a scholarship from Coach Tommy Tuberville for the 2004 season. That's something that Hobbs says he has been looking for and it's a big help to college football player and his family.

"It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders financially," Hobbs tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "The hard work finally pays off. It's just a real good feeling."

A 6-0, 183-pounder with solid speed, quickness and a nose for the football, Hobbs played in all 13 games last season with seven starts at cornerback. Despite being a walk-on he finished with 31 total tackles and made three interceptions. That total tied for the team interception lead and his seven broken up passes was good enough for second on the team. Hobbs says that what he did in 2003 was beyond his wildest dreams for a first year of action in Auburn's system.

"It meant a lot for my confidence knowing that I come out there and play with those guys my first year," Hobbs says. "That really boosted my confidence. I always knew I could do it, but getting out there boosted my confidence. Now I'm working even harder and I'm doing all the little things I have to do to be better than I was last year."

Hobbs makes a play on Silas Daniels during this past spring's A-Day game.

Last season Hobbs lined up at cornerback with the Tigers looking to find someone to take over the starting spot opposite Carlos Rogers, but this year he is expected to see action at free safety in Coach Gene Chizik's scheme. Looking for better pass coverage out of the safety position, Chizik moved Hobbs to free safety during the spring and says he was happy with what he saw. Hobbs notes that the move is something that he looks at as another opportunity to impress the coaching staff and earn playing time.

"Anytime you can play more than one position that's a plus," he says. "When Coach Chizik came up to me and talked with me about it at first I wasn't that excited about it. Anything I can do to help the team that's what I told Coach Chizik I would do.

"Once I got out there and kind of got running around at safety I liked it. It's different, but it's always good to learn something new. It also helped me learn the defense even better by me moving to safety. I think it's a good move for me and the defense."

The move could have been a setback for Hobbs, but he's taken it in stride just like he's done everything since he arrived at Auburn. Much of the reason for that is his relationship with Chizik. A young and energetic coach that gets along well with his players, Chizik has built a bond with his secondary personnel and Hobbs says it's easy to play for the fiery coordinator.

"Everybody is different, but my opinion is that he's very easy to work with as far as how he teaches it and how he breaks it down," Hobbs says. "He's a smart man. He knows what he's talking about. When we have our meeting times, when he explains it to you it's hard not to learn it. He's real good about breaking the defense down to us as a whole and then individually as a secondary."

Kevin Hobbs will be placed on scholarship beginning with the fall semester in August. He will enter the preseason as the number two safety behind Will Herring.

Losing five starters from last season's defense, all out of the front seven, Auburn will be looking to re-build the unit around a veteran secondary led by seniors Carlos Rogers and Junior Rosegreen. Hobbs says that being a team means doing whatever it takes to win and that's what the the defensive backs will have to do this season.

"As a secondary we have everyone coming back and have some experience under our belts," Hobbs says. "Just like the guys up front did for us last year, they did their parts and made it easy for us as a secondary to get the job done. This year in the secondary we have to do our part to make their job up front a little easier. Defense is basically a chemistry thing. The more chemistry we develop during the season, the better we'll be as a defense."

Unlike last season when the Tigers were picked by many as the top team in the SEC, Auburn will enter the 2004 campaign as a distant second to LSU in the SEC's Western Division. While that would be a concern to many teams, Hobbs says that this team looks at that as another opportunity to prove people wrong. If Hobbs' story is any indication of this Auburn team then good things are in store for fans of the orange and blue.

"We really try not to pay attention to all the hype," Hobbs says. "We try to push each other and work hard. That's the bottom line. If you're going to win you have to outwork your opponent. We're not concerned with the media and where they have us ranked. We have to do our part. We could be 117th, but if we work hard and do our part then we'll prove a lot of people wrong."

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