"We want to try to finish before our spring break, which is the last week in March," Tuberville said of the plans this spring. "Our spring game is March 19. We'll have a couple of practices after the spring game and even a scrimmage after the spring game. March is going to be a very busy month for our football team. We're going to try to get it in as quickly as possible. We're doing that for several reasons. Number one is that we don't want our players to have to go through an off-week during spring practice and come back. The other is that we've got a lot of younger players that we're going to throw a lot at very quickly. We want to see how much retention we have."
While the Tigers are generally healthy heading into the spring there are several players that will either be held out of action or be limited with what they can do on the field. Tuberville said that even though several players won't be able to participate in all of the practices in the spring he anticipates no serious problems with the depth on the team as has been the case in past spring practices where walk-ons have been forced to log a majority of reps during practice because of a lack of numbers.
"We've got a few guys still beat up from the season and from surgery," Tuberville said. "Steven Ross will not participate in any physical practices this spring. Antarrious Williams will be a little bit slowed because of the surgery on his wrist after the Georgia game. He's probably 75 percent going into the spring.
"We'll have a couple of other guys that will miss some practices, but hopefully we'll have most of the newer guys out. That's what spring practice is about. We're going to have some movement in some areas with our depth chart, but mainly it's pretty consistent with what we did last year."
In addition to Ross and Williams, cornerback David Irons is also recovering from a surgery he had last season and Tuberville says he's around 90 percent heading into spring practice. He said he anticipates Irons taking part in practice and that he's ready to go. Tuberville says running back Brad Lester has been slowed by a strained hamstring during winter workouts and will miss the first week of practice, but should return after that full speed.
Center Will Ward has given up football and is on a medical hardship scholarship after his back and neck troubles became too much. He will continue his education at Auburn Tuberville said.
Quarterback Brandon Cox goes into spring practice as the number one player at the position.
Going into the spring there will be some new faces on both sides of the ball for the Tigers as defensive coordinator David Gibbs takes over for Gene Chizik and begins to put his stamp on the defense. Offensively the absence of quarterback Jason Campbell and running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown will be the most glaring during spring practice as a group of young but talented kids attempt to win the jobs heading into fall practice.
"Things should be very competitive, starting with our quarterback position," Tuberville said. "Yes, we do have a controversy going into our first spring practice of not knowing who our quarterback is going to be. We'll start out with Brandon Cox, who we know more about. Obviously he's the heir apparent to Jason Campbell, but we're looking for somebody to lead this football team on and off the field, set a good example for our players and also be very consistent underneath the center. Calvin Booker, Blake Field and Dusty Goodwin, all three of those guys have great possibilities. They're all going to get their reps. There's going to be a lot of competition. There is going to have to be a lot of work done on themselves to make them better in a short period of time. Hopefully we'll have a depth chart that is completed at the quarterback position at the end of this spring practice."
While things at running back are just as jumbled with four players fighting for the starting job, veteran Tre Smith will begin the spring as the starter at tailback while Carl Stewart, Kenny Irons and Lester will all be in the mix. Tuberville said that Smith has earned the right to get the first look, but the competition will be fierce among the group this spring.
"At the running back position obviously we have Tre Smith coming back along with Carl Stewart, Tuberville said. "Then we'll have Kenny Irons and Brad Lester, hopefully we can get at least 10 practices out of him. He'll have to be mentally involved the first week because of that injury. Jake Slaughter is at the fullback position along with several other young guys."
With Ross out at center for the spring and Ward forced to give up football there will be some new faces at the position this spring, headlined by sophomore Leon Hart. A player Tuberville said is one of his five best offensive linemen heading into the spring, Hart could get a look at center and even guard in spring practice. Also vying for the center job will be walk-on Joe Cope and freshman Jason Bosley, who was grayshirted last fall.
"At the center position Leon Hart and Joe Cope will battle for the number one spot," Tuberville said. "With Steven Ross not going through spring practice he'll get to bullpen snap with us. That's one area that we'll see some competition. We're looking to have a center from one of those two by the end of spring practice."
Josh Thompson is just one of the many players that will get a look at multiple positions this spring on defense.
On defense Gibbs will bring a similar style to the one Auburn fans are familiar with, running a 4-3 scheme that relies on speed at the point of attack. While the scheme will look the same Tuberville said there are some changes in the way Gibbs does things and he's looking forward to see how his team responds to the different ideas in the spring. That is particularly true up front where the defense experienced some losses and is looking for a way to get the best players on the field at all times.
"I like what David Gibbs has done," Tuberville said. "We're going to move some of our defensive ends, at times, into our tackle positions for third down rush and blitz packages and some of those things. Sometimes you'll see Stanley McClover and Quentin Groves inside and Chris Browder. The big area is we have to decide what we want to do with Josh Thompson, who as we speak is a back-up noseguard. We could also move him out to some three-technique (defensive tackle) along with Wayne Dickens. Neal Brown will get some shots inside and Pat Sims is a question mark of what he can do and how much he can do. Tez Doolittle, it's his turn. It's his turn to get out there and be a part. He knows that the competition each year is going to get a lot deeper. Our defensive line has an opportunity to be good next year, but we've got a lot of young guys that are going to have to play a big role."
There are several players that either changed positions for the spring or will get a look at multiple spots beginning with the first day. Former linebacker Octavious Balkcom has moved to defensive end and is listed as the third-team strongside end behind Marquies Gunn and Christopher Browder heading into spring practice. Steve Gandy, who will start the spring at safety, could get a look at linebacker. Also Lorenzo Ferguson will get his first look at safety for the Tigers, but could see some action at cornerback as well. Tuberville said the development of some key players in the secondary is a major point of emphasis this spring for the overall future of the football team.
"In the secondary we're really going to have to have some guys step up," Tuberville said. "Patrick Lee, it's time for him to play and make a move. Eric Brock, it's time for him to move up. Zach Gilbert, I don't think there's any doubt he can play. Kevin Hobbs we need to find a home, a consistent home. Anthony Campbell is another guy that has the ability to do it. Montae Pitts is going to have to make a lot of strides. People went after him last year. He had a good year, but not a great year. He learned a lot. Being opposite Carlos Rogers he got his opportunities. He needs to keep improving and he did improve, but he's still got a lot of room for improvement."
Tuberville said there are three major scrimmages planned for the spring and all will be on a Saturday. The first is scheduled for March 5 and it will be held on the practice fields behind the athletic complex because of renovations to the stadium. The same is true of the next scrimmage on March 12. The only scrimmage of the spring inside Jordan-Hare Stadium will be on March 19 for the annual A-Day Game.
1 Devin Aromashodu, WR, 6-2, 202, Sr., Miami, Fla.
2 Ben Obomanu, WR, 6-1, 198, Sr., Selma, Ala.
2 Carlos Ortega, K, 6-1, 213, RFr., Miami, Fla.
3 Tony Bell, S, 6-2, 218, So. Alabaster, Ala.
3 Clayton Jones, WR, 5-11, 172, Roswell, Ga.
4 David Irons, 6-1, 189, Sr., Dacula, Ga.
5 Sean Alexander, WR, 6-0, 211, RFr., Chicago Heights, Ill.
6 Dusty Goodwin, QB, 6-1, 206, So., Demopolis, Ala.
8 Cooper Wallace, TE, 6-4, 265, Sr., Nashville, Tenn.
9 Anthony Mix, WR, 6-5, 248, Sr., Bay Minette, Ala.
11 Calvin Booker, QB, 6-4, 238, RFr., Atlanta, Ga.
12 Brandon Cox, QB, 6-2, 202, So., Trussville, Ala.
13 Patrick Martyn, P, 5-10, 192, RFr., New Orleans, La.
13 Jamoga Ramsey, WR, 5-10, 164, Jr., Delray Beach, Fla.
14 Lorenzo Ferguson, 6-1, 206, RFr., Miami, Fla.
15 Jonathan Vickers, QB, 6-2, 217, RFr., Athens, Ala.
16 Blake Field, QB, 6-2, 199, RFr., Tallahassee, Fla.
17 Anthony Campbell, CB, 5-10, 191, RFr., Hialeah, Fla.
18 Matt Clark, K, 6-1, 193, RFr., Grayson, Ga.
19 Montae Pitts, CB, 6-3, 206, Jr., Loachapoka, Ala.
20 Patrick Lee, CB, 6-0, 198, So., Miami, Fla.
20 Matthew Motley, H, 5-10, 177, So., Opelika, Ala.
21 Karibi Dede, 6-0, 216, LB, Jr., Woodbridge, Va.
22 Tre Smith, TB, 5-10, 199, Jr., Venice, Fla.
23 Kenny Irons, TB, 5-11, 202, Jr., Dacula, Ga.
25 Lee Guess, WR, 5-10, 177, Jr., Trussville, Ala.
26 Steve Gandy, S, 6-1, 202, RFr., Waynesboro, Miss.
26 Alex Howell, RB, 5-9, 172, So., Montgomery, Ala.
27 Tristan Davis, DB, 5-10, 203, RFr., East Point, Ga.
28 Brad Lester, TB, 5-11, 190, RFr., Lilburn, Ga.
28 Blake Shrader, S, 5-10, 191, RFr., Stevenson, Ala.
30 Kody Bliss, P, 5-11, 177, Jr., Brentwood, Tenn.
30 Maurice Anderson, WR, 6-3, 210, So., Semmes, Ala.
31 Antarrious Williams, LB, 5-11, 206, Sr. Columbus, Ga.
32 Carl Stewart, RB, 6-1, 207, So., Alacoa, Tenn.
33 Eric Brock, S, 6-1, 212, So., Alexander City, Ala.
35 Will Herring, S, 6-4, 215, Jr., Opelika, Ala.
36 Jeremy Walden, FB, 5-11, 240, RFr., Shelby, Ala.
37 John Vaughn, K, 6-1, 201, Jr., Brentwood, Tenn.
38 Zach Gilbert, CB, 5-10, 190, So., Florence, Ala.
39 Chris Evans, LB, 6-0, 221, Fr., Prichard, Ala.
40 Kevin Sears, LB, 6-4, 24, Jr., Russellville, Ala.
41 Octavius Balkcom, DE 6-4 243 RFr., Blakely, Ga.
41 Kevin Beall, DB, 6-0, 191, Jr., Memphis, Tenn.
42 Justin Berryman, S, 6-1, 194 ,RFr. Alapharetta, Ga.
42 Perry Hooper, RB, 5-9, 180, RFr., Montgomery, Ala.
43 Evander Holyfield, WR, 6-2, 178, So., Fairburn, Ga.
43 Pete Ruzicka, S, 6-0, 208, Jr., Cranberry Township, Pa.
44 Jake Slaughter, FB, 6-2, 241, Sr., Brentwood, Tenn.
45 Mike McLaughlin, FB, 6-1, 230, RFr., Waynesboro, Miss.
46 Rory Carter, DS, 6-3, 216, RFr., Columbus, Ga.
47 Justin Connally, LB, 6-0, 206, RFr., New Hope, Ala.
47 Andrew Turman, FB, 6-0, 228, Soph, Hoover, Ala.
48 Marquies Gunn, DE, 6-4, 238, Jr., Alexander City, Ala.
49 Kevin Hobbs, DB, 6-0, 192, Sr., Tampa, Fla.
50 Joe Cope, C, 6-0, 276, Jr., Andalusia, Ala.
51 Travis Williams, LB, 6-1, 207, Sr,. Columbia, S.C.
52 Kevis Burnam, LB, 6-2, 242, Jr., Montezuma, Ga.
53 Chas Crofoot, DS, 6-1, 190, Sr., Orlando, Fla.
54 Quentin Groves, DE, 6-3, 245, So., Greenville, Miss.
55 Greg Johnson, DE, 6-2, 228, So., Selma, Ala.
56 Courtney Harden, LB, 6-1, 239, RFr., Leighton, Ala.
56 Robert Shiver, DS, 6-3, 213, RFr., Thomasville, Ga.
58 Tommy Jackson, NG, 6-1, 30,5 Sr., Opelika, Ala.
59 Merrill Johnson, LB, 6-1, 201, RFr., Butler, Ala.
59 AJ Ruffin, LB, 6-0, 228, Jr., Butler, Ala.
62 Pete Compton, DS, 6-6, 239, So., Brentwood, Tenn.
65 William Sullivan, OG, 6-5, 310, RFr., Lillington, N.C.
66 Troy Reddick, OT, 6-5, 335, Sr., Albany, Ga.
68 Jason Bosley, C, 6-4, 271, Fr., Huntsville, Ala.
69 Ben Grubbs, OG, 6-3, 302, Jr., Eclectic, Ala.
70 Antwoin Daniels, OT, 6-6, 298, RFr., Forsyth, Ga.
71 Jarrod Britt, OG, 6-4, 296, So., Powder Springs, Ga.
72 Leon Hart, C/OL, 6-5, 302, So., Columbia, S.C.
73 Marcus McNeill, OT, 6-9, 337, Sr., Decatur, Ga.
74 Steven Ross, C, 6-6, 292, Sr., Nashville, Tenn.
75 Stanley McClover, DE, 6-3, 247, So. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
76 Tim Duckworth, OG, 6-3, 326, Jr,. Taylorsville, Miss.
77 King Dunlap, OT, 6-8, 292, So., Brentwood, Tenn.
79 Jonathan Palmer, OG, 6-5, 319, Jr. ,Decatur, Ga.
80 John Isbell, TE, 6-4, 246, RFr., Fort Payne, Ala.
81 Kyle Derozan, DE, 6-3, 265, Jr., Morganza, La.
82 James Swinton, WR, 6-1, 175, RFr., Tucker, Ga.
83 Ernest Norman, TE, 6-3, 208, RFr., New Orleans, La.
84 Charles Mullen, TE, 6-4, 241, RFr., San Diego, Calif.
85 Rodgeriqus Smith, WR, 6-0, 173, RFr., Snellville, Ga.
86 Courtney Taylor, WR, 6-2, 204, Jr., Carrollton, Ala.
87 Cole Bennett, TE, 6-5, 256, Jr., Dalton, Ga.
88 Rick Pollard, TE, 6-3, 229, Jr., Dalton, Ga.
89 Danny Perry, FB, 6-2, 24,2 So., Auburn, Ala.
90 Tyronne Green, NG, 6-3, 306 RFr., Pensacola, Fla.
91 Neil Brown, DT, 6-2, 264, So., Buford, Ga.
92 Christopher Browder, DE, 6-4, 247, Jr. Camden, Ala.
94 Nathan Farrow, DT, 6-3, 310, RFr., Birmingham, Ala.
95 Pat Sims, DT, 6-4, 293, RFr., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
96 Wayne Dickens, DT, 6-1, 303, Sr., Lakeland, Fla.
97 Josh Thompson, NG, 6-0, 301, So., Statesboro, Ga.
98 Brandon Haley, DE, 6-3, 233, So., Lakeland, Fla.
98 AJ Harris, DE, 6-3, 250, So., Bronx, N.Y.
99 Tez Doolittle, NG, 6-3, 289, So., Opelika, Ala.