Looking For Good Health And A Good Season

A former football starter discusses his goals for spring training as he tries to make a move for more playing time.

Auburn, Ala.--Ronnie Brown is leaner and hopefully meaner as spring training steps up in intensity this week as the Tigers put on the full pads for the first time on Tuesday.

That Tuesday session is scheduled to be the first of three consecutive days of workouts. It is a great chance for the sophomore tailback to show new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino what he can do.

"I have lost some weight and I believe I am quicker than I was last year," says the 217-pound Brown, who started the 2001 campaign around 222 and was listed at 225 to close the season at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

Ronnie Brown opened the 2001 season as the starting tailback.

The 2001 season was a frustrating one for Brown because he struggled from game one to game 12 with his health. The problems began with a turf toe injury in preseason. At the time he was hurt, he was the clear No. 1 tailback. After that setback, he struggled with his quickness and lost his job to Casinious Moore, who lost the No. 1 spot to Carnell Williams. Williams was replaced by Chris Butler after the Cadillac was lost for the season with a shoulder injury.

Compounding Brown's problems were thigh and shoulder injuries that served as a rude welcome to college football after spending a year on the sidelines as a redshirt while watching Rudi Johnson earn SEC Player of the Year honors.

Tommy Tuberville says there is a good chance that Brown could swing between tailback and fullback like he did last season, but so far in practice Brown has stayed at one position. "For now I am just practicing at tailback, but everybody knows things are subject to change at any time so I may have to play a little fullback," Brown says.

If the redshirt sophomore wants to stay exclusively at tailback, this is a big week for him to show that he has the quickness to handle the position, starting with the Tuesday practice all the way through the first scrimmage of the spring that is scheduled for Saturday.

"Everything is going real well," Brown tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "Everybody has had a lot of intensity at practice. We have got a lot to learn, but things are going smoothly. Everybody is learning their plays and going to meetings to work on getting the plays down."

"For me, I have been playing tailback the whole time and things are going pretty smoothly. I know Carnell is the starter for right now. Casinious and Chris are pushing and trying to do their best so it is just going to be a challenge for everybody to get a position."

Ronnie Brown

"Winter workouts went pretty well," Brown adds. "I slowed down a little because I was rehabbing my toe, but I made a lot of progress. I have been running pretty good. I feel pretty comfortable with it."

Brown has excellent strength and runs tough both inside and outside, but quickness has been the concern for the former Cartersville, Ga., High star. Getting faster was a focus of his offseason program. "I have improved my speed," Brown says. "I have dropped a few pounds and that has helped. I weigh 217 now. I have also worked on my legs. I think I did pretty well in the offseason and I have definitely improved my quickness."

Commenting on his spring training goals, Brown says, "I want to go out and practice hard everyday and make it through all 15 days without going to the training room for treatment on injuries."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Brown says that if the first two practices are a good indicator, Petrino is going to run a more intense practice on the offensive side of the ball this year compared with Noel Mazzone's practices. "The coaches are on everybody's back about learning," Brown says. "I think that will be real good for our offense."...Head coach Tommy Tuberville says he is encouraged with what he has seen from the running backs and says that tailback and fullback have the potential to be a team strength this fall. Based on his play as a true freshman last season, Carnell Williams has the ability to be an All-SEC caliber tailback. "Carnell is looking good," Tuberville says. "He really looks fast...All of the running backs are good. There is going to be a lot of good competition there. It is good to have all of those guys back there because we are going to be a little more run-oriented in the first few scrimmages so we will get a look at all of them. Carnell is a little over 200. I would like to get him to 210."

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