Thursday Is Moving Day For Tiger Freshmen

Coach Tommy Tuberville said Thursday's practice was a learning day for both players and coaches as the scout team work began on both offense and defense.

Auburn, Ala.--Thursday signaled the end of preseason practices is near for the Auburn Tigers as they began organizing and working against scout teams on both offense and defense in a two and a half hour practice in shorts and shoulder pads.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said that it was a learning day and one the coaches will use to help them decide which players will remain on offense and defense and which players will migrate to the scout team.

"Today was moving day, so to speak," Tuberville said. "It's usually a pretty tough day on young guys that don't understand redshirting and not redshirting. We had two groups picked out, one on offense and defense. There are still a lot of guys on the three-deep that will move down to scout team. We just wanted to start today a movement of scout team guys down to maybe work one-on-one with the lines early in practice.

"We had about 15 minutes of scout team work at the end and tomorrow we'll have about 30 minutes. Sunday we'll go about an hour of scout team so we're kind of moving into it slowly."

Several prominent freshmen were with the scout team to begin the day as quarterbacks Calvin Booker and Blake Field took turns running the Louisiana-Monroe offense during the scout team period. Their presence on the scout team more than likely means a redshirt year for the duo and that walk-on Dusty Goodwin will be Auburn's number three quarterback to start the season.

"We moved down Booker and Blake Field," Tuberville said. "Those two will redshirt as long as people don't get hurt. They moved down to scout team."

A player who has impressed Coach Al Borges since he arrived on the Auburn campus this past spring, Goodwin is a strong-armed passer and knows football. The son of a high school coach, Goodwin picked up the offense quickly in the spring and Borges said he's currently the third guy behind Jason Campbell and Brandon Cox.

Freshman Neil Brown works against Marcus McNeill in Thursday's practice.

Also working with the scout team were tight end Octavious Balkcom, defensive tackle Tyronne Green, offensive linemen Antwoin Daniels and William Sullivan, fullback Michael McLaughlin, tight end Charles Mullen and linebacker Courtney Harden. Tuberville said that Balkcom has moved back to linebacker after a trial stint at tight end and his status is 50-50 right now as far as redshirting goes this season.

Surprisingly, one of the players not slated for a redshirt year right now is freshman defensive back Lorenzo Ferguson. Despite missing much of the preseason workouts while continuing to rehab an injury suffered last season in high school, Tuberville said that Ferguson has some qualities that could help the Tigers this season when he gets full speed.

"We're looking at Lorenzo and trying to find out how far along he is," Tuberville said. "We want him to play. He's got a lot of speed. We would love to have him on special teams. He's not going to be a factor defensively, but if we're going to play him on special teams I want him learning corner as we go through the season because we haven't had a good start with defensive backs."

Even with the return of redshirt freshman Zach Gilbert to practice on Thursday after bruising a leg in Tuesday's practice, Tuberville said the coaching staff has decided to work a few offensive players at cornerback in practice just to make sure they know the position.

"We did that last year to make sure we work them out," Tuberville said. "I have seen this happen before. Once you get a rash of injuries in one area it seems like it's that thing for the year. We want to make sure we have enough (corners) for the nine-game stretch. We worked Brad Lester, Courtney Taylor and Tre Smith at corner."

Tight end Cooper Wallace continues to practice and Tuberville said the junior is close to 100 percent healthy after struggling with a hamstring strain this preseason. Defensive end Bret Eddins should return to practice on Sunday after being held out much of the last week because of a stinger in his neck. His backup, Doug Langenfeld, missed practice again with a sore hip flexor and Tuberville said his status is questionable.

Tuberville praised the kicking game following Thursday's practice as both John Vaughn and Philip Yost were perfect on the day. Yost closed out the practice session with a pressure kick of just outside 40 yards that kept the team from running post-practice sprints. While he said Vaughn still holds a slight edge, Tuberville admitted that the race is close and won't be decided until early next week for the starting job.

Auburn will practice Friday before taking Saturday off to get ready for game week. Sunday begins the normal routine for the team as the Tigers practice before taking Monday as their game-week off day. With nine straight weeks of play during the season Tuberville said it's important that the team be as fresh as possible entering the season opener on Sept. 4 against Louisiana-Monroe. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Tiger Ticket Extra: With the high school football season getting under way this weekend in Alabama, one of the up and coming programs in the state had the opportunity to see the Auburn Tigers practice Thursday. Spain Park, which takes on Auburn High Friday night, came to town a day early to work out on Auburn's practice fields and then watch a practice. The Jaguars feature two prominent college prospects in Tyler Grisham, a senior who has committed to Clemson, and junior quarterback Neil Caudle. Caudle is a 6-3, 192-pounder with 4.6 speed. He attended the junior version of the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Mission Viejo, Calif. this summer with 20 other top junior signal callers from around the country and is considered one of the top players in Alabama for the Class of 2006. He threw for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore.

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