Rosegreen Likes New Defense

Sophomore Junior Rosegreen talks about the changes with the Auburn football team's defense this spring.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the positions that is in good hands this season for Auburn appears to be cornerback where Freshman All-American Carlos Rogers returns along with fellow starter Roderick Hood.

However, Hood's time at corner may be tenuous at best as sophomore Junior Rosegreen continues to stake his claim as a starter with a strong start to spring training as the Tigers try to learn a new defense under new coordinator Gene Chizik.

"I think things are going really well," Rosegreen tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "We are coming in learning the defense, coming in watching film together as a unit. It's really all about chemistry. Once we have that chemistry then the sky is the limit for us."

Junior Rosegreen is shown at practice prior to the Peach Bowl last December.

Seeing more and more playing time late last season as Hood struggled with injuries and inconsistent play, Rosegreen finished the season with 24 tackles, including four against Alabama and six against LSU in his only start of the season. Now Rosegreen and mates must learn a new defensive scheme that gives the defensive backs more freedom to make plays on the perimeter by playing tight on opposing wide receivers.

"We ran a 4-3 in high school (Dillard in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) so all I had to do was get adjusted," he notes. "Now I think I'm going to be rolling. I know what I'm doing and I'm in the right position at the right time to make plays. We can basically man-up and play man-to-man. We can also play zone coverage, zone-man. It just shows all our skills. I think a true 4-3 helps out the corners and the safeties. It helps them showcase their abilities and skills.

"This defense gives you an opportunity to come up and go all out," he notes. "You know all you have to do is tell the safety, ‘I'm going to play real aggressive, just watch my back.' As long as we're back there talking we should be real good."

Rosegreen is a player who has always worn his heart on his sleeve. That made it difficult at times for the talented defender from South Florida to sit back last season and watch others play before him. One thing that helped him through the tough times was an experience he went through in high school. Forced to sit out his junior season because of academics, Rosegreen says that he has learned to take things in stride and keep working for the best.

"You always go through stuff to get where you want to be," Rosegreen says. "To get where you want to be you always have to go through a storm and I feel like I went through the trials and tribulations and I came out on top. All that is showing me now is to stay focused and keep working hard."

The hard work he has put in is beginning to show up on the field, particularly in the form of strength and conditioning. Under the tutelage of coach Kevin Yoxall and staff, Rosegreen has the look of a different player this spring and he likes the way he feels on the field because of it.

"When I came in I was okay," Rosegreen says about his freshman season. "I came in pretty big but I think I had to get adjusted so ‘Yox' broke me down to size. Then he built me back up to where he wanted me to be. He's real strict and tough and that's the kind of strength coach you need if you want to be the best. He got me a lot stronger and a lot faster. I'm weighing 190 now and by working out with Coach Yox, he helped me out a lot."

Junior Rosegreen

Bigger, stronger and wiser, the ultra-competitive Rosegreen is taking his talents to the practice field this spring in hopes of making the defense better. One thing he will do is challenge the offensive players, even the coaches, to make them better. That's something that is a part of his game and he says he wants to see more of that this spring as the team gears up for a run at the league championship in 2002. If that is to happen, the defense will be a major reason why for the Tigers.

"I just want to see them flying around and striking people," Rosegreen says of his hopes for the defense. "I want the defense to talk a little noise and have fun. Football, that is all it's about is having fun. If you're out there and you're not having fun, you're not going to play good."

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