Perhaps with more vigor than in any summer in recent memory, the Auburn football Tigers are working themselves to the point of no return to get ready for two-a-days that begin in August. After the problems last season on offense, it's not surprising that the leaders of that pack of players have been the skill players and offensive linemen looking to redeem themselves for a late season collapse.
Quarterback Daniel Cobb and running back Ronnie Brown at work on a hot Thursday in Auburn.
That means getting on the practice fields after a two-hour plus workout to conduct a makeshift practice for the benefit of the younger guys. Nowhere is that more important than at wide receiver where newcomers Montae Pitts, Devin Aromashodu, Ben Obomanu, Lee Guess, Courtney Taylor and Anthony Mix are all on campus working with the quarterbacks in order to be ready for fall practice. With a glaring need at receiver this fall, senior signal caller Daniel Cobb says this time is invaluable to the offense so the Tigers may be ready for the opener at Southern Cal on Sept. 2.
"It creates familiarity between the receivers and quarterbacks," Cobb says. "Especially between the receivers themselves. Here in a couple of weeks the young guys will go against the defensive backs and that will take away some of the intimidation factor now rather than going into two-a-days and being worried about who they are going up against. They get to know the other guys and it's like breaking the ice before actual two-a-days. It benefits both the quarterbacks and receivers by those guys being here."
Receiver Devin Aromashodu is in top shape heading into the fall.
One of the anxious youngsters on the campus is Aromashodu. Up from Miami for the rest of the summer to prepare for his freshman season, the explosive receiver says that he's been very pleased with his first week in Auburn.
"I like everything," Aromashodu says. "It's going good. I'm having a good time. I like all the players. It was tough at the beginning, I just started this week, but now I'm getting a little bit used to it. I've been running some 100s and catching short, quick passes all summer to try to get my coordination down so hopefully it will pay off."
Aromashodu, who will return home for the week of July 4th to visit his family, notes that these afternoon sessions have really given him a chance to learn some of the offense he wouldn't normally see until the start of practice. Because of that, along with a lot of natural ability, he may be in a position to challenge for early playing time but he's not getting ahead of himself.
"I like it," he says with a smile. "It's nice, especially the passing. I just like working with the players. We joke around a little bit, it's relaxing. I'm learning a lot from the older players like (Justin) Fetsko and (Joe) Walkins and (Marcel) Willis. They are teaching me a lot about my routes and things...I can't say that I'll challenge right now because I haven't really practiced in pads. I hope so though. It has helped me, no question about it."
Anthony Mix, who is 6-5, 232, is working hard to remain at wide receiver this fall.
For now the Tigers will continue to work in the hot sun to get ready for the season. Cobb notes that he's already seen some improvement out of the young guys this summer and hopes it is a sign of things to come.
"Montae has impressed me and Devin and Lee," Cobb says. "Those guys have only been here like a week. Anthony Mix has probably made the biggest improvement since his first day. Montae has shown some really good hands as has Ben Obomanu. They were all pretty raw running around that first day, but what's good to see is all of them making progress from one day to the next and talking to the other receivers like Fetsko and Joe Walkins and Marcel and Silas (Daniels). They're taking constructive criticism the right way. They've all come in here with really good attitudes and they're all really impressive. It should make for a great battle this fall for who wants to play."