The defensive end from Montgomery is upbeat about his chances to contribute to what he predicts could be a strong defense this season. Eddins and Jay Ratliff are expected to battle for a starting job in two-a-days and throughout the 2002 season.
Eddins has been working out at a brisk pace since spring training ended in an attempt to arrive at the start of preseason practice in the best shape possible.
"Right now, the coaches are trying to get us all to keep our weights up and maintain that and just get stronger and faster," Eddins says. "I think everybody is really looking at playing time and competition so everybody is working real hard.
"Coach Yox (strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall<) has us out there five days a week just trying to get us ready for the first four games, which are, you know, back-to-back. He is doing the best he can to get us ready and I think it's really working out good for everybody."
Eddins goes through a summer individual workout at the indoor football practice facility.
Junior Reggie Torbor is expected to start at weakside defensive end. No matter who starts on the strongside, Eddins, Ratliff or somebody else, it will be a player without any experience at defensive end in college. Ratliff's only playing time has come on offense at tight end and Eddins has seen most of his action on special teams.
"Right now, I'm just trying to get in better shape," Eddins says. "I am starting to gain some weight and get stronger, I think, just like everybody else. Those should be your main goals this time of year. I try to work on quickness. The defensive line is meeting every now and then and working on positional stuff. I am just trying to get better at that every day."
The defensive ends and tackles normally work out together on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Eddins says the sessions are helpful. "We meet and work on the little things so when we get to two-a-days we don't have to go over little fundamental things. We can get right into the defensive game plan and get that polished up."
Eddins says he is excited about the opportunity he has for significant playing time this fall. "It feels a lot better knowing I am not getting redshirted or knowing that I am not behind two seniors. Right now, me and Jay are having a pretty good competition. Jay is going to be real good so the competition is really good for the defense."
Eddins weighed 254 pounds in spring drills, but is up to 260 now. "That is close to where they want me and Jay at the strongside end so I think I'm going to stay right around there," he says. "I don't want to get too heavy or too light."
Bret Eddins (94) chases quarterback Jason Campbell (17) during spring drills 2002.
Eddins says he feels comfortable playing the new defensive system installed by Gene Chizik in spring drills. The responsibilities for the ends are not going to change a great deal from last year.
"I think Coach Chizik has done a good job of kind of simplifying a lot of the jobs, whereas the old one, it seemed like you had to know a couple of different things," Eddins says. "But now, you just take care of your job and you're going to be fine. Coach (Terry) Price has really asked us to give a lot of effort and play hard--just take care of the fundamental things and the big picture will take care of itself."
In addition to Eddins, other Tigers are predicting they will have a strong defensive unit this year. "We have got some good leaders out there with our linebackers and defensive backs," Eddins says. "And, the D-line has got a good number of older guys so, pretty much, the only position we're really replacing is the strongside end. So, if me and Jay take care of our job, we should be all right."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Eddins was a linebacker in high school, but says he doubts that he will have much pass coverage responsibility in the new defensive system. "Right now, the ends are just working on the run technique and the pass rush technique. If they throw pass coverage in there, then that will be fine. I would like to get a chance to catch the ball."...Eddins, who is beginning his third season in the Auburn program, says that he likes the changes Yoxall has implemented in the offseason strength and conditioning workouts. "I'm getting stronger," Eddins says. "Coach Yox has kind of changed up from last summer what we do and I think it is working a lot for a lot of the guys. You see a lot of the guys getting a little bigger and a little stronger. It seems like we are just trying to get everybody stronger, doing a little more upper body than we have. I think Coach Yox, from year to year, he feels the guys out and sees where we need to improve. He's done a great job the last few years of really making us more athletic and stronger altogether.".
Bret Eddins (94) is the son of a former Tiger star defensive end Liston Eddins.
Eddins says that although the defense held the upper hand on the offense in spring drills, he has a good feeling that the offense will make a move this fall. "I think we've got a real good attitude. I also think the offense is coming on. They have got so many of these younger guys coming in. And, you know, the offense has worked real hard with the passing. I think Coach (Bobby) Petrino's got a real good style of play coming in here and he's got a good concept."...Eddins says the team is excited about its national TV opener vs. Southern Cal. "I think that is real exciting, especially playing out in California on Monday night. We're the only game on that night so, hopefully, we will be able to get out there and put on a good show. There are a lot of people that think we are going to have a downhill program like Sports Illustrated said. Hopefully, we will be able to get out there and prove them wrong."