Injuries An Issue For Some AU Commits

A weekly update on the senior seasons of Auburn's football commitments for the class of 2006 is featured.

Auburn, Ala.—Heading into the homestretch of a 10-game football season can be brutal time for the body of a high school player, and that is showing for a number of Auburn's commitments for the class of 2006.

Five of Auburn's 13 commits are currently dealing with or have been dealing with the injury bug for the past few weeks.

One of the players who is making his way back from the injured reserve list is Snow Hill High's Benjamin Tate. The talented tailback, who went down three weeks ago with a high ankle sprain, was able to see some limited action again over the weekend.

Tate, who was averaging an amazing 20-yards per carry before the injury, says that his ankle is getting a lot better and it has made a big improvement from Friday night's game, where he carried the ball five times for 95 yards and a TD and caught two passes for 42 yards on about 20-30 offensive snaps.

The 5-10, 210-pound back adds that it has been great to get back to practice this week since he had been away from the team in the afternoons to focus on his rehab. He also notes that he had to play with a huge tape job and wrap on Friday night, but was able to take that off in practice on Monday and Tuesday. He also adds that he was playing at about 70 percent last weekend, but should be back to near 100 percent in two weeks at the most.

On the other side of the coin, Opelika's Zach Clayton and Trinity's Bart Eddins are just now having to deal with injuries. Clayton, who suffered a deep thigh bruise in a 14-7 loss to Auburn in game nine, was held out of action last week against Huffman, and may also miss the Bulldogs' first round playoff matchup with Lee of Montgomery.

Zach Clayton is hoping to get healthy so he can help the Bulldogs in the playoffs.

Eddins, on the other hand, says he expects to play in the Wildcats' first round playoff game at Thomasville despite suffering a fractured knuckle and some stretched ligaments in his hand in Trinity's 35-0 win over Alabama Christian.

The big tackle, who says he had about four tackles in the game, notes that the fracture is one that will likely heal on its own and that he can already make a pretty good fist with the injured hand. He adds that he plans on gritting his teeth and trying to help lead his young team to a run in the playoffs.

Godby High's Kareem Crowell was also injured in a 35-21 win over East Gadsden High. The injury is not serious, but the lineman will be held out of action next week so he can get back to 100 percent for the playoffs, which begin on November 11th. Before he was injured, Crowell has four tackles on defense and graded out at 71 percent on the offensive line with three pancakes.

Another Tiger commitment is finally back to 100 percent, however, Lovejoy High and Mario Fannin finished their season with another tough loss. This time it was a 17-16 defeat at to Mundy's Mill. The talented athlete, who notes that he didn't even ask his coach for his stats this week following the final game of his high school career, says it has been frustrating to have worked so hard for his senior season and come up just short in a number of very close games.

Injuries are not the only story for the class of 2006, however. Wadley's Terrell Zachery is in hot pursuit of one of the most prestigious records in the state and is closing in fast. The athletic wide receiver caught four passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 61-32 win over Ranburne, and he is now only 132 yards shy of the all-time record for career receiving yards in Alabama. Zachery also added another score on a 77-yard kickoff return.

It was also a good family night for Wadley as Zachery's younger brother, Montez, who still needs to grow a bit but is only a sophomore, rushed for 42 yards and a TD on seven carries and even out-did his older brother by scoring on an 87-yard kickoff return.

Terrell Zachery is likely to finish his career as the all-time leader in career receiving yards in Alabama.

Another receiver, who is having a very strong year and will be key to his team's fate in the playoffs, is Peach County's Chris Slaughter. The wideout caught four passes for 101 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-6 win over Northeast High, which was the Trojans' seventh straight victory after starting the season 0-3.

This season Slaughter has caught 32 passes for 836 yards, which is an average of 26 yards per catch, and 16 TDs. He also has 549 yards and three TDs on kickoff returns and 162 yards and a TD on punt returns, which gives him a total of 1,547 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns.

Quarterback commitment Steven Ensminger continues to play well and lead his West Monroe teams to big wins. The week it was a 45-7 victory over Huntington. Ensminger only played for a half in the blowout win, but hit 10-11 passes for 256 yards and a TD. He also led the Rebels on back-to-back 99-yard scoring drives.

Linebacker commitment Hendrick Leverette has not had the chance to play any more than a quarter or a half in most of Oak Groves games this season. The Warriors have been blowing their opponents out of the water and that was the case again this week in a 49-7 victory over Hattiesburg High. Leverette was able to punch in a one-yard TD on offense in the win, which moves Oak Grove's record to a perfect 8-0, 5-0 in region play.

Greg Smith and Northeast Mississippi Community College defeated East Mississippi Community College 45-27 to move to 6-0 on the season. First Coast High and Alex Rose continued their winning ways with a conservative 10-0 win over Forrest High. The Buccaneers will take on Sandalwood next weekend before playing their first ever playoff game the following Friday. Also, Zaccheus Etheridge's Charles Henderson team finished their season on a good note by defeating eighth-ranked Jess Lanier 27-20. The Trojans were down 20-0 at halftime, but held the Lanier offense to only 25 yards in the second half and got some good production from the passing game to pull off the victory.

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