Moving On Up: Tailback Climbing Depth Chart

This Tiger tailback comments on this strong start to the 2005 season.

Auburn, Ala.--Although nothing is official, it appears as if Brad Lester may get his first start at tailback when Auburn travels to Fayetteville to play Arkansas on Oct. 15.

"I don't think I've even had any reps with the second team so far this week," Lester says. "(Coach Eddie Gran) told me he was going to give me a shot for the number one spot."

The redshirt freshman missed all of the spring practices with a hamstring problem and a groin pull. He missed parts of preseason practices with a hamstring injury and found himself fourth on the depth chart when Auburn opened the season.

"After I got injured during two-a-days I didn't expect to be getting this much playing time this early," he adds. "Coach Gran told me he thought I could run the ball, but since I've been sitting out I've got to start from the bottom up. He said if I do what I'm supposed to do then I'll get my reps. I didn't expect it come this soon."

Lester is averaging an impressive 6.7 yards per carry through five games. Despite not being 100 percent physically when the season kicked off, he also leads Auburn in all-purpose yards at 93.2 per game and scoring with his seven total touchdowns. He has also returned three kickoffs for 181 yards--a 60.3 average.

"I really didn't expect it, especially starting the season off as number four," he says of his rapid climb up the depth chart. "My dad was talking to me and he told me to be patient about it because he was telling me about how Gerald Riggs at Tennessee started at fourth or fifth last season and he ended up being the number one back.

"I just thought about his situation and just kept working hard," Lester adds. "My time finally came."

Brad Lester (28) has brought an aggressive running style to the tailback spot.

Hard work is what every football coach in America wants out of his players, but in the case of Lester it is something that has had to be monitored and cut back.

"I talked to Coach Yox (strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall) in the summer and in the spring," Lester says. "He was saying that it (avoiding hamstring injuries) has a lot to do with sticking to his program and not doing too much extra. He said when you over-train like that it puts too much pressure on your lower body and your hamstrings. He said when you don't have much body fat like that and you over-train like that your muscles are going to pull a little easier."

Lester, who was already in top shape physically when he came to Auburn in the summer of 2004, adds that he often doubled up on Yoxall's rigorous workouts.

Even though Lester is running with the first team this week, his friend and fellow tailback Kenny Irons will likely still get his share of the workload. Lester notes that their friendship hasn't changed even though they are competing for the number one spot.

"Me and Kenny were just talking about what we're going to do this weekend when we go home," Lester says. Both backs are from Gwinnett County on the north side of Atlanta.

"Me and Kenny are still real good friends and we hang out all of the time. He's going to be riding home with me when we go home this weekend and we're going to be hanging out. Nothing has changed at all."

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