Tailback Making His Move

Brad Lester is expected to be the featured back vs. the Arkansas.

Auburn, Ala.--Running back coach Eddie Gran says redshirt freshman Brad Lester will get his first college start vs. Arkansas.

Following Sunday's practice, at which Lester and junior Kenny Irons shared time at first team tailback, Gran notes that Lester will get the call at tailback vs. the Razorbacks.

"The first thing is his big-play ability," Gran says. "He is averaging 6.7 yards a carry. I really love the way he has really put it all together with the protection and the run blocking when we ask him to go to the "F" position, too. He has just really become a very complete player."

Gran says that he is not displeased with the play of Irons, who was running number one at tailback prior to Lester's promotion. "It's a great deal," Gran states. "I am in a great situation. Brad has worked to get that spot. When you say he is the starting running back, they (Lester and Irons) are still our one-two guys right now.

"In terms of how many reps they get in a game, a lot of that is by feel so I don't know if Kenny is going to lose a ton of reps," the running backs coach says. "But, right now, I want to put the ball in Brad's hands. You just look at him on kickoff returns and look at him when he is breaking those tackles, right now he is the guy."

Gran says that Lester's play has been a pleasant surprise considering that he missed all of spring practice with injuries and much of the preseason with a hamstring problem.

"He did some things last week on some blitzes that you used to see Ronnie (Brown) and Carnell (Williams) do," Gran adds. "Things that weren't his deal maybe. I was excited about it. It was really exciting, but I hope next week Tre (Smith) wins the job. I hope next week I am saying Tre is our starting tailback because they are competing as hard, the four of them, as I have ever had backs compete. They want it. They are practicing and it is awesome. I am excited about the situation."

Sophomore Carl Stewart is the fourth tailback in the competition for playing time.

Brad Lester has 36 carries for 242 yards and five TDs. He has another touchdown on a kickoff return.

Gran says that he likes the development he is seeing from Lester as a redshirt freshman. "He's not Cadillac, but he is growing into being a mature guy. I think with this deal it is very important because of what people throw at you. People throw some stuff at you on game day that you didn't practice. It is like that every week, it is going to be like that always.

"You have to be able to adjust on the sidelines or on the field during the game and I can't be out there for them," Gran adds. "They have got to do it in those situations."

Lester and the Tigers won't practice on Monday, but will be back on the field Tuesday preparing for Saturday evening's game at Arkansas. Kickoff is 6 p.m. CST from Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

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