Unfortunately for defensive ends Terry Price, he has very seldom had the luxury of rotating past two deep. That won't be the case in 2004 as several newcomers join with some key veterans to give Price his deepest unit yet in orange and blue.
"We have some of the best numbers that we've had in a while," Price said. "We have some athletes out there, but a lot of them are raw. They are learning technique for the first time. It's still kind of early to tell, but I still like our athleticism. We have a long way to go on technique for a lot of these guys because they haven't been out here."
One of the new faces for Price to work with is junior college transfer Christopher Browder. A standout at Wilcox-Central High, the 6-5, 221-pounder originally signed with Alabama, but did not qualify academically. Instead, he attended junior college in Mississippi. While there he kept in touch with Coach Joe Whitt on the Auburn staff and when the time came to re-sign Browder said it was really no decision at all because of how well he had been treated by Auburn during the entire process.
"He was real good," Browder said of Whitt. "The whole while I was there he told me to keep my head on straight and no matter what happened we want you. Come to us and we'll be here for you no matter what. It's been a tough road, but I knew what I had to do and just stayed on that path. Everybody was telling me that if I stayed on that path eventually you will get there."
While finishing work on his junior college credits, Browder was able to spend a lot of time in Auburn and got a chance to meet many of his future teammates. Familiar with playing defensive end in high school after playing a stand up position in junior college, Browder said that Friday's first day of practice was a perfect way to start his football life at Auburn.
"This first day was everything I expected it to be," Browder said. "The coaches are treating me right and the players are showing me everything I need to learn. They are helping me out and I'm glad to be here. I love all my teammates. Everybody showed me the ropes. Being a family here has helped me so much and they have welcomed me to the team."
With Bret Eddins leading the way at defensive end and Doug Langenfeld, Stanley McClover, Marquies Gunn and Quentin Groves all expected to see playing time this fall and fellow newcomer Neil Brown also fighting to see some action Browder has his work cut out for him to earn playing time this season. Still, Price said that he wouldn't be surprised at all to see the sophomore be a big part of the 2004 defense.
"He's just real, real raw right now," Price said. "He has still a lot of work to do as far as technique. He just hasn't done it in a while. He was a stand-up linebacker in junior college so he's going to have to learn a lot of fundamentals fast. He has a lot of talent though."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Coach Tommy Tuberville addressed the media on Friday following the first practice of 2004. In his annual preseason press conference Tuberville said that everyone except Korey Raymond has been cleared to play this season. Auburn officials are expecting Raymond to be cleared after all of his transcripts are reviewed at the NCAA Clearinghouse...Tuberville said he was extremely impressed by the condition of the players after a summer of working with Coach Kevin Yoxall. Coach Al Borges also praised Yoxall's work, allowing the players to concentrate more on football than getting into shape. That's something that should help the Tigers because less time spent running sprints means more time to spend learning on the field.