Unfortunately for an Auburn redshirt sophomore cornerback, who was a projected started going into the 2004 season, joining his teammates on the turf at Jordan-Hare Stadium last Saturday was not an option.
Montae Pitts, a 6-1, 202-pounder from Loachapoka, was suspended for the Louisiana-Monroe game by head football coach Tommy Tuberville for violating a team rule. The infraction actually took place in the spring, but the suspension was just announced last week.
The one game out is the end of the suspension and the sophomore is trying to prove to his coaches this week in practice he is ready for a starting assignment that he had worked for going back to winter workouts. He has been seeing practice time with the first team defense.
"I let my family down, the coaches, my teammates and all of the people who look up to me," Pitts says. "I let them down and also myself. I just want to come out there and perform the way I know I can perform and play a hard game and hopefully a good one."
Montae Pitts began his collegiate career as a wide receiver and moved to cornerback late in his redshirt freshman season.
Pitts and the Tigers will be in action on Saturday for the SEC opener at Mississippi State."I am happy to be back with my teammates," Pitts says. "I apologize for violating a team rule."
The coaching staff wouldn't allow him to join the team on the sideline for the game and Pitts says it would have been too painful to watch the game from the stands. "I watched it on TV at my cousin's house," he says.
Pitts says he has gotten support from other Tigers. "A lot of them, they lifted me up," he notes. "They said don't worry about it, you will be back next week--just be careful with my decision-making. They were with me 100 percent and showed me a lot of love. I was disappointed with myself though."
Pitts made his first college start in the bowl victory over Wisconsin and was battling David Irons for a spot on the first team at cornerback until Irons went down with a season-ending knee injury in preseason. Kevin Hobbs started at cornerback opposite Carlos Rogers in the first game.
"I worked so hard and I made the transition from wide receiver to cornerback," Pitts says. "I earned my spot. It hurt me not to be there for the first game."