Spring Football News & Notes

Comments from Auburn football coaches and players are featured along with recruiting updates and photos.

Although the Tigers have finished just two of their allotted 15 days of spring football practice, it is clear there are going to be real differences in how the Tigers play the game defensively.

Gene Chizik, who was brought on board last month to coordinate the defense, is preaching aggressiveness and full speed play to the Tigers. The former University of Central Florida defensive coordinator has been working overtime and then some to learn Auburn's personnel and coach his defensive assistants on how he wants to teach the game of football.

In addition to plans to play more of a traditional 4-3 look, there is an increased emphasis on developing an attack mentality on the Tiger practice fields. That is something cornerback Horace Willis says has definitely been noticeable in team meetings and at practices. "I think this defense is letting us be more aggressive," the senior says. "It is letting us play and show what we can do. It is all on us."

The Tigers will put the full pads on and have contact at Tuesday's practice, which will be the second practice of the week and the third of the spring. Willis says he is eager to get it on. "Lock and load, I am ready to go," he says with a smile. "I just want to go out there and play my best every down and win every down."

Roderick Hood is shown at Sunday's football practice. The senior is running first team at cornerback ahead of Junior Rosegreen.

Willis says he would much rather be on the field playing football than participating in the demanding offseason program under Kevin Yoxall's direction. "I had a long offseason," Willis says. "It was difficult, but I got better and I got stronger in the weight room. I got over a lot of injuries that I had last season and I am ready to learn the new defense."

Tiger Ticket Notes: Early indications from practice are that the running backs and tight ends will play larger roles in the 2001 passing attack...The Tigers don't plan to spend a great deal of spring practice time on the kicking game, but will do some work in that area, head coach Tommy Tuberville says. The kickers were spectators for most of the first two practices, but are scheduled to get some action on Tuesday. Sophomore Phillip Yost will see most of the field goal kicking practice time, Tuberville says. "We already know what Damon (Duval) can do," Tuberville says...Early high school graduate Wesley Hill showed some major improvement from his first to second college practice. In fact, he threw a long bomb to redshirt freshman Larry Summers and hit a deep sideline route to senior tight end Lorenzo Diamond. "Wesley is getting better," Tuberville says. "He is 17 years-old and practicing with the big boys for the first time. You know that has got to be an eye-opening experience. The speed of the game is really different from what he has seen. He is going to be a good player." Clay Hill, Wesley's father and coach at Crisp County High in Cordele, Ga., was at practice to check out his son's first efforts as a college player.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Although Saturday's practice was rained out, the football coaches stayed busy entertaining 2003 prospects on junior day. Some showed up an hour ahead of schedule to have an early chance to talk to Tiger coaches, who just finished putting together a strong 2002 signee class. Some in-state prospects who visited Auburn include: 6-3, 290 defensive lineman Dominic Baker from Thomasville High; 6-2, 185 cornerback Eric Brock from Benjamin Russell High in Alexander City; 5-11, 165 wide receiver Matt Caddell from McAdory High in McCalla; 6-6, 200 wide receiver Jonathan Frazier Grissom High in Huntsville; 6-0, 165 running back/defensive back Eric Gray from West Morgan High in Trinity; 6-2, 315 offensive lineman Lance Harold from Vigor High in Prichard; 6-1, 240 fullback Scott Luke from Sylacauga; 6-2, 210 quarterback Cole Peace from Cedar Bluff High; 6-0, 185 wide receiver Carlton Rice from Johnson High in Huntsville and 6-2, 185 wide receiver Jason Swain from Grissom High in Huntsville.

Rich Trucks is shown is Sunday's practice. The 6-8, 319-pound walk-on is running second team at offensive tackle behind junior Mark Pera. Ryan Hockett (76) is a walk-on guard.

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