Auburn Stars Shine For NFL Draft

Phillip Marshall takes a look at the week that was in Auburn athletics including the NFL Draft.

Please forgive my absence in this space for the past week. I finished off a trip to New York City for the NFL draft by coming down with a bad case of bronchitis. I'm not over it yet, but I'm climbing back slowly but surely.

A week's worth of impressions from the recliner in my living room:

It looks like reality is beginning to set in for Auburn's baseball team. First-year coach Tom Slater has squeezed about everything there was to squeeze out of this team, but it might not be enough.

The Tigers probably need to win six of their last nine league games to get into the SEC Tournament. They might get in with five out of nine, and even if they don't, that might be enough to earn an NCAA regional bid.

Winning five or six is a pretty tall order with series remaining against Ole Miss, at Georgia and Alabama. If the Tigers don't make it, they'll surely look back at last Saturday as one that could have made a difference. They led 2-1 with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, only to let South Carolina escape with a 3-2 victory …

Carnell Williams joined Ronnie Brown in the Top Five of the NFL Draft.

Almost unnoticed, the Auburn softball team has had the best year in its history. The Tigers are 47-14 overall and 21-8 in the SEC, both all-time bests, and finished second in the West and third overall in the regular season. They hope to be chosen as an NCAA regional host …

Running back Ronnie Brown certainly did himself, his family and his school proud at the NFL draft. He was a class act from start to finish, but there was no reason to expect anything else.

Brown, quarterback Jason Campbell, running back Carnell Williams and cornerback Carlos Rogers, who combined to give Auburn the best first round of any team in SEC history, have been class acts since they arrived on the Auburn campus.

And not to be forgotten are defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, defensive ends Bret Eddins and Doug Langenfeld, offensive guard Danny Lindsey and strong safety Junior Rosegreen. Don't be surprised when some of those guys earn their way on to NFL rosters …

At first I thought the email was a joke. The writer was ranting about Eugene Harris, an assistant Auburn basketball coach later assistant athletic director, going to Alabama as an assistant coach.

What would anyone expect? Harris was loyal to Auburn for more than 10 years, but when his job was eliminated, he needed to support his family. He got a great offer from Alabama and he took it.

And well he should have …

It's been kind of amusing to see Phillip Fulmer and Steve Spurrier throwing barbs at one another again. Spurrier might want to take a deep breath, though. His situation is a bit different at South Carolina than it was at Florida. Fulmer has a lot more players than he does.

Speaking of South Carolina, people close to the program say Spurrier will have to do a remarkable coaching job to squeeze a winning season out of the Gamecocks next fall …

The 12th game has been officially legalized for 2006, and the disappointment will soon begin.

It will not result in a lot of a great matchups. Because the NCAA wouldn't expand the season by a week, schools are limited to finding opponents with the same open dates they have. No one in a big-time conference wants to play a big-time nonconference game in the meat of their league schedule. If the NCAA would have simply agreed to start the season a week earlier, it would have been different.

What we are going to see is a lot of games against teams that volunteer to come take a beating for a good paycheck …

Don't count Eddie Gran among those fretting about Auburn's running back situation. He expects Tre Smith, Kenny Irons, Carl Stewart and Brad Lester to admirably take up the legacy left by Williams and Brown. Gran says, it might take all four, but he expects the 2005 runners to gain as many yards as the 2004 group did …

Until next time …


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