However, cornerback Aairon Savage from Albany, Ga., who was offered by Auburn after he was the most impressive defensive back at an Auburn football camp last summer, says things have developed on the practice field exactly the way he anticipated them to prior to the start of drills on Tuesday.
"It has been all of what I expected, bigger guys, faster guys, more physical guys," he explains. "I am still learning, trying to get a hold of the defense and get a chance to play."
Despite having a good idea of what to expect, Savage says that it has not been an easy transition by any stretch of the imagination.
"I would have to say the speed of the game," he notes about what has been the most difficult part of the college practices. "In high school sometimes you have a guy at wide receiver running a 5.0 or something, but everybody here is pretty balanced, so I guess the speed. You have to be on your P's and Q's every play because anybody can run past you on any play."
Other than having problems with the speed of the game, the other major area that most freshmen have difficulty with is keeping the new playbook straight in their minds, especially with the quick pace that practices move at on the college level.
However, the talented cornerback says that is one area where he has worked hard to try and stay ahead of the game. "I have been able to stay on top of things," he says when asked if his head might be spinning a little bit by now. "I meet with Coach (Auburn defensive coordinator David) Gibbs a whole lot and we break down the defense together and that helps me a whole lot to know what is going on."
Aairon Savage gets ready to run a drill during a fall practice session.
On the subject of his new defensive coordinator, Savage says that he has had the same reaction to the former NFL coach that almost all of the veteran players have had once they got the chance to know him.
"I love Coach Gibbs," he says with a big smile. "He breaks it down for me and he shoots it straight, and I like that. If you are not pumped up, but I don't know how you're not going to be pumped up out here, he will pump you up. He is that kind of coach, always going."
Even though Savage says that all of Auburn's veteran wide receivers have been very tough to try and cover so far, he has had his moments in practice where he has been able to hold his own against some of the most talented pass catchers in the SEC.
The 5-11, 162-pounder says he feels like that is something that not only gives him an extra shot of confidence, but is also something he can use to help take his game to another level.
"I think anytime that you can get out there versus a top wide receiver, in our group, and they are one of the top groups in the SEC, you have to feel good for that," he explains. "That is a building block, you know, something that I can start from and try to keep building up from and try to get on the field and play."
Along with doing well on the field throughout the summer pass-skel sessions and the first week of fall practice, Savage was also mentioned on Thursday among a large group of Tiger players that had recorded at least a 3.0 GPA for the summer semester.
That distinction is something the freshman says he is also very proud of earning. "That feels good going into the fall having a 3.0," he notes. "I have something under my belt already."