Football Coaches Experiment With Position Change

An Auburn football player talks about his first day at a new position.

Auburn, Ala.--Andrew McCain moved to a new position at Tuesday's practice, but it was really an old one for the Auburn football freshman.

The six-foot-six, 259-pounder played defensive end last season at Briarwood Christian in Birmingham and he was back there on Tuesday evening on the practice field at Auburn, one week after moving from offense to defense when he was switched from tight end to defensive tackle.

McCain played much of the second half at tackle in Auburn's 63-3 victory vs. Ball State last Saturday and the defensive coaching staff praised his effort.

On Tuesday at practice, defensive tackles coach Don Dunn and defensive ends coach Terry Price talked to the freshman about moving outside to end. McCain notes that he is happy to give it a try.

"The older guys helped me out a lot today at practice," he says. "I know Coach (Price) said he wants me to work at defensive end at practice the next few days and we will kind of see how it goes and where they need somebody."

McCain was singled out by coaches as being the most physically prepared freshman when he reported for preseason drills in August. However, he didn't play in games one or two and looked to be headed for a possible redshirt year until game three where he filled in at defensive tackle.

"It took me a bit to get used to playing end today because I have really felt like a tight end," McCain tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "That was the position I was recruited to play. Every time I came down here to Auburn after I was recruited I would sit in the film room with the tight ends trying to get a feel for the position.

"Then, all of the sudden it was, ‘Hey, go back to defense.' At first it felt like I should still be playing tight end, but after I got my feet wet and got comfortable I started getting used to it again. That defensive mentality came back to me from high school. I feel like that is where I was meant to be."

Andrew McCain runs a drill in Tuesday's practice.

McCain and the 2-1 Tigers practiced in full pads and had a good bit of contact on Tuesday as they prepare for 2-0 Western Kentucky. The two teams will kick off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"Obviously, we have had some guys with injuries at end," says McCain, explaining why he is getting a look at the position. Stanley (Stanley McClover) has been out with injuries and he is working hard to get back to full speed. Everybody knows what he can do out on the field."

McCain says he believes there is another reason he is being tried at the new position. "We have so much speed at defensive end, but there is not a whole lot of weight on the players at the position so I think they want to give me a look there to see how I do."

McCain reported for practice at 265 pounds, but hasn't been able to keep all of that on during the heat of August practices as well hot September workouts. The temperature on the practice field on Tuesday was in the 90s. "I am working to maintain what I have now and want to stay at around 260 after losing six pounds since the start of practice," he says

If McCain gets to play on Saturday, he will be facing a Western Kentucky team that likes to attack defensive ends with the option play. The freshman says he is very aware of that fact and adds, "I guess it is a good thing that I saw a lot of that in high school, but this is a whole different dimension because it is a whole lot faster. I am going to spend a lot of extra time with Coach Price in the film room so I can get up to speed this week."

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