Invited Football Walk-ons Ready To Hit the Field

Auburn coaches have invited five walk-ons to join the 2005 football team. Those players comment on their opportunities.

Auburn, Ala.--Five invited walk-ons will take the practice field for the first time as college players on Tuesday afternoon as they join 17 scholarship freshmen players and two scholarship junior college transfers.

When practice opens, the roster size is limited to 105 players under NCAA rules. It will be expanded later after fall semester classes start, but walk-ons who join the team late in the process are hard-pressed to get much attention from a coaching staff that will be putting in game plans and focusing on the next opponent.

This year's invited walk-ons include two defensive backs, one offensive lineman, one H-back/fullback/tight end and one wide receiver.

Tyler Maloney is walking on from Florence High School and will try to play center for the Tigers although he is currently undersized for the position at 6-4, 254 pounds.

"I turned down a smaller school scholarship (University of North Alabama) to walk on at Auburn," he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "A lot of that had to do with the educational part of it--getting a better education. I grew up an Auburn fan, and that had a lot to do with my decision, too."

Tyler Maloney

Maloney, who is interested in majoring in building science, was a three-year starter in high school on the defensive and offensive fronts. He started for Bradshaw High in Florence his sophomore and junior years. As a senior, at the new Florence High, he was tried at center at a jamboree and he did so well he played there last fall.

While adjusting to a new position, Maloney also had to adjust to a new coaching staff and a lot of new teammates as Bradshaw and Coffee were merged into a new high school.

"The merger actually worked a lot better than most people thought it would," he says. "The toughest part was going through a whole new coaching staff and learning a new system. As far as the teams go, we knew each other anyway. We were all friends. It really didn't make much difference."

Maloney got to the Auburn campus earlier this summer and enrolled in a freshman world history course and has been doing workouts with his new teammates. "I am glad I did it because I couldn't imagine trying to train on my own and then come here and try to do this," he says.

Brett Carr

One of the two out of state invited walk-ons is very familiar with Auburn. Niceville High's Brett Carr was raised an Auburn fan in the Florida Panhandle, which is not surprising because his dad, Freddie Carr, played defensive back for the Tigers in the 1970s.

"Auburn is the place I really wanted to go," Carr says. "I have been coming to football camps for a couple of years and I loved the school. I had some smaller offers, but I wanted to play here. Walking on was the only opportunity that I had to play at Auburn so I am going to try to take advantage of it. I am looking forward to it."

Carr, a player who won praise at the passing camp last year from former AU defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, says Florida Atlantic University offered a scholarship and along with other "small programs," but he says, "I didn't give them any consideration."

Carr says his father had a smile when the defensive back told him he was going to attend Auburn. "He is very excited that I am here. He would have let me go anywhere, but when I chose Auburn he was very happy."

Stephen Gowland was a standout at both tight end and defensive end at Parkview High in Lilburn, Ga. He decided last year he was going to walk on and play for the Tigers if he didn't get a scholarship offer.

Stephen Gowland played high school football with Tiger running back Brad Lester.

Auburn coaches say that they will initially use Gowland as an H-back or fullback on offense with the possibility of moving him to tight end. However, with three tight end signees in the 2005 class and three returning scholarship tight ends, that position is rather crowded.

Gowland says he is ready to get on the practice field after working out with his future teammates this summer. "I am not nervous, but I am anxious to see what it is going to be like because I have heard all of the rumors like, ‘oh, two-a-days.' I am really looking forward to being able to compete again because I just love to compete."

At six-foot-four, 226 pounds with good all-around athletic ability, Gowland should fit in nicely with the scholarship athletes in this freshman class.

Austin Hoyt is shown in game action from his senior season.

The other two walk-ons are from Montgomery. Austin Hoyt is a defensive back from Trinity Presbyterian, the same team that sent tight end Tommy Trott to Auburn. Jarvez Williams is a wide receiver from Jeff Davis High.

"We should have won state last year, but we had a few mistakes and didn't but that is all right," says Williams, who is 6-0, 175 pounds.

Williams says that he originally planned to walk-on at the University of Georgia, but decided to stay closer to home after AU wide receivers coach Greg Knox invited him to try it at Auburn.

Williams sent Knox a highlight video from his two years as a starter for the Volunteers. The receiver says he wasn't full speed last fall due to a groin injury and that probably kept him from getting scholarship offers. "I am willing to start at the bottom and work my way to the top," he says.

Williams, who wants to major in either computer science or engineering, has been driving over from Montgomery to the Auburn campus to participate in passing drill voluntary workouts with his future teammates.

Hoyt, who was also a standout receiver in high school, has also been commuting to Auburn. "I have been coming up here Tuesdays and Thursdays and doing a little seven on seven," he says. "We have been throwing the ball around and learning some of the new defenses that we are using with Coach Gibbs (defensive coordinator David Gibbs).

"It is tough for a freshman coming in," Hoyt says. "It is a totally different game up here. I am going to play free safety."

Hoyt, who says he is currently 6-1, 182, notes that he has been working out at Hogan's Gym in Montgomery and running wind sprints at Trinity Presbyterian. He says that he is in good shape. "I will be ready for two-a-days," he says. "My main goal is to give it my all and try to earn a scholarship for next year."

Those walk-ons will join a larger group of walk-ons who participated in spring training and who will be a part of the initial 105-man roster.

Returning walk-ons include wide receiver Maurice Anderson, deep snapper Rory Carter, center Joe Cope, deep snapper Chas Crofoot, cornerback Zach Gilbert, defensive end Brandon Haley, DB Brant Haynie, punter Patrick Martyn, holder Matthew Motley, tight end Danny Perry, linebacker Mark Pickett, wide receiver Jamoga Ramsey, safety Pete Ruzicka, wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith, fullback Andrew Turman and quarterback Jonathan Vickers.


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