Freshman Fullback Eager To Get Started

Mike McLaughlin and the other members of the 2004 Auburn football signee class are preparing to hit the field for the start of practice on Friday.

Auburn, Ala.--One of Auburn's 2004 signees who will have a chance of playing early is fullback Mike McLaughlin.

He will join junior Jake Slaughter as one of only two true fullbacks on the 2004 AU team. McLaughlin, who was a standout player on a powerhouse Wayne County High School team in Mississippi, checked in on Thursday at 6-0, 226 pounds.

At a variety of other positions, the depth chart will be more challenging to climb. McLaughlin says that is a plus for him personally, but says his main focus now is trying to figure out what is expected of him.

"I am excited about the opportunity, but I just look at it as a blessing as I get to learn from him (Slaughter) and learn how the system works," McLaughlin tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

With the first practice set for 10 a.m. on Friday, McLaughlin says is not sure what to expect. "I am very nervous," he says. "It is giving me jitters so it is kind of exciting, too. I am sure when the time comes to practice I will get into the flow."

After playing in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game in Mobile this summer, he came to Auburn and began working out. "I came over a little bit in the end of June to begin running and stay in shape so I can help the team as much as possible," the freshman notes. "I didn't take any classes. I did work."

McLaughlin says he has just one personal goal for the 2004 season. "I just want to go out and give 100 percent in everything I do," he says.

The running back adds, "I will play any position. Anywhere they ask me to play to help out the team."

When he gets on the practice field, he says there isn't any one particular area he is looking to improve. "I can improve on most everything," he says. "I need to improve all-around to be a better player."

McLaughlin says that he has already had early help from his teammates at the voluntary summer workouts. "All the other players here were very helpful," he says. "That is one of the things that made me chose Auburn. Everybody is nice. It is easy to get along with people here. It is like I have known them as friends and everybody came back and got reunited."

There is one player on the team who has been a long-time friend. Safety Steve Gandy, his high school teammate, joined the fullback in the 2004 Auburn signee class. "It is great having Steve here with me," McLaughlin says. "It makes coming to college easier."

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