Opportunity Ahead for Young Auburn Lineman

Oscar Gonazlez and other redshirting freshmen are getting more attention in Auburn's bowl practices.

Auburn, Ala.--With starting tackles Marcus McNeill and Troy Reddick graduating, there will be opportunity for Auburn's backup offensive linemen to break into the starting lineup next season.

On Tuesday, the Auburn redshirt freshmen and others who have seen little or no game action this season will get a chance to show the coaches what they can do in a short scrimmage.

One of those backup linemen is 6-6, 295 Oscar Gonzalez from Hialeah, Fla., the only scholarship offensive lineman in this year's incoming signee class after signee Michael Harness from Pacelli High in Columbus, Ga., failed to qualify. AU is no longer recruiting Harness, who is attending prep school.

"I am getting ready to go out there and show what I have got," says Gonzalez, who notes that he is working on getting bigger and stronger. "I am going to try to get to about 310 to 315 (pounds). I don't want to be too big. You have got to be quick on your feet."

Gonzalez, a standout wrestler in high school who was a defensive lineman at Hialeah High, has plenty of quickness and shows the aggressiveness that would be expected from a former defensive player.

His position coach at Auburn, Hugh Nall, likes his linemen to play aggressively and he has seen signs that Gonzalez will be that kind of player.

Hugh Nall (left) works with Oscar Gonzalez during a practice this season.

"He has natural ability to play the tackle position because he has such long arms," Nall says. "He does a great job of getting his hands on guys quickly. I have just been real impressed with him so far.

"He is a real tough kid, too," Nall adds. "I saw that at our camp last year when he busted his nose and kept going. I knew he was not going to be afraid of competing or playing hurt."

Gonzalez says he has had to be tough to handle the offseason workouts that strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall put the redshirts through this fall. "I just went out there and did it how he wanted," Gonzalez says. "He's tough now," the freshman adds. "Yox's is no joke. He knows what he is doing."

Gonzalez says it will be important for him to show the coaches he knows what he is doing during bowl practices that run through Wednesday in Auburn and resume Dec. 27th in Orlando.

Tiger Ticket Extra: The big freshman says he is making the adjustment to college life and notes that everything was "straight" with his first fall semester in college. He is an education major...Gonzalez has a pet snake (python) that he was showing to his teammates after Monday's practice...While many young offensive linemen have to really work on their quickness to be effective at the SEC level, that isn't the case with Gonzalez. He will likely be as quick as many defensive linemen he will face in the coming years. His high school coach credits years of training in another sport for helping Gonzalez in that area. "His wrestling helps him enormously with his footwork and quickness," notes Hialeah coach Alex Terry. "He's aggressive and competitive as heck."

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