Herring Enjoying New Challenge at Linebacker

Senior Will Herring comments on his first spring as an outside linebacker for the Auburn football team.

Auburn, Ala.--Speculation had been out there for some time that Will Herring might move from free safety to linebacker for the Auburn football team.

That happened this spring when new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp approached the second-team All-SEC free safety from a season ago about making the move. The reason was three-fold--Auburn had lost two starting linebackers in Travis Williams and Antarrious Williams, Herring was a solid 6-3, 220-pounder who had played close to the line of scrimmage on many occasions and there were several candidates who might fit in at safety.

Herring had no problem with the switch. After all, he is considered one of the most intelligent Tigers who has always put the team first. But there would be a degree of difficulty for Herring, who has started a team-high 36 straight games and had been Auburn's second-leading and leading tackler the past two years in becoming a fixture in the starting defensive backfield.

Prior to Saturday's A-Day game won 7-0 by the Blue squad that featured the number one offense and the number two defense, Herring was presented the Mike Kolen Award for leading Auburn tacklers during the Tigers' 9-3 season in 2005. It was a good day former Opelika High Bulldogs Herring and Tommy Jackson, who was the recipient of the Ralph "Shug" Jordan Award as the outstanding senior player on last year's team.

Will Herring accepts the award from Coach Tommy Tuberville as the team's leading tackler for 2005 prior to the kickoff in Saturday's A-Day Game.

Following the Blue victory Saturday, Herring assessed his transition from safety to strongside linebacker. He had only three tackles in the A-Day game, but had a 14-tackle day in a scrimmage this spring.

"I've come miles from the first day of spring practice, but I know I have a long ways to go," Herring says.

"The comfort level is getting better. Instead of automatically turning to go cover a receiver when I see the quarterback drop back to pass, I'm learning to react by rushing the passer."

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville doesn't see any problem with Herring's adjustment to linebacker.

"It's a good move for the team and it's a good move for Will," Tuberville noted in his A-Day post-game comments. "He's a smart player who was our top tackler last year. I believe he can do that again this year being closer to the line of scrimmage."

Tuberville commented that Herring made progress every day in the spring and is reaching a comfort level at linebacker. Herring said he has only begun to learn the position.

"I believe I'll get better and better with each game next year as I get more experience at the position," he explains.

It appears that Herring will remain at linebacker. The deciding factor won't be so much how Herring has performed at his new position, but if the defensive coaches have enough confidence redshirt freshman Aairon Savdage or sophomores Tristian Davis and Lorenzo Ferguson at free safety.

No matter where he plays, Herring is looking forward to his senior year. The exercise science major is excited about the attacking defense that Muschamp has installed this spring.

"We are more physical and I like that a lot," Herring admits. "That's especially true for me at linebacker where I don't have to think quite as much as when I was at safety. I get to be more physical."

As for winding up his final spring as an AU football player, Herring is philosophical. "It's hard to believe I've been here four years (including a redshirt year). I'm just trying to take it all in and realize the opportunity Ive had and the opportunity that remains with the move to linebacker."

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