Rosegreen Ready To Show His Safety Skills

This is the second part of a four-part series on the strength and conditioning program for the Auburn football Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Sometimes it takes adversity for the cream to rise to the top. Such is the case with sophomore strong safety Junior Rosegreen.

Following struggles in high school and his redshirt season on the Plains, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native has turned his life and game around as he heads into the 2002 season.

Junior Rosegreen

While much of the credit has to go to a kid that is willing to work hard and persevere, some of the accolades have to be pointed in the direction of strength and conditioning coordinator Kevin Yoxall as well. Taking the skinny freshman under his wing two summers ago, Yoxall put Rosegreen on the right track and he hasn't strayed since.

"Coach Yox is like a father to me," a serious Rosegreen tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "He's just a great coach. When I came here I went through some problems. That's just like every other freshman, but I got over the hump.

"He realized that he had to stay on me and he did. I knew how important it was what he was doing to me to get me right. When I get older and another young kid comes in here, I can show them what I've been through and they'll turn their life around."

Kevin Yoxall

What they'll see is a player that reported at 175 pounds, who through hard work and determination turned himself into 190 pounds of fury on the football field. Known as a vicious hitter coming out of tradition-rich Dillard High School, Rosegreen was a natural safety who had the size of a cornerback after his senior season. That has all changed and he says that hopefully he can live up to the potential placed on him after a strong spring practice.

"I'm a lot faster," Rosegreen says. "I'm a lot quicker. I have learned a lot more about the game by just being here. This is going to be my third year. Being with the new coaching staff and coach (Gene) Chizik, he knows so much about that game that he just taught me a lot. I think he's going to compliment me and the whole secondary and we'll make more plays than last year.

"I know when I hit people there is going to be more force because I'm bigger and stronger. When I hit them they are going to feel it more than they were when I was weighing 175. At 190 I'm a whole lot different player."

The reason he's a different player on the field is a top-notch strength program led by Yoxall. With assistant Tommy Stucky and graduate assistants Tony Del Angel and Ronald Caton pushing the players to their limitations, Rosegreen says this summer has been an eye-opening experience for some of the players that have been used to less challenging workouts.

"They did a lot for us," he says with a smile. "They're bringing more intensity with the workouts. There's no more coming out there lackadaisical. You come out there to get better at whatever position you play. You're coming out there to get better at your position."

Adding to the excitement of the summer workout program has been the addition of the new weight room over the winter. With a full knowledge of the area and its benefits to the program, Rosegreen says this will only enhance the program and make future Auburn teams a danger on the national level.

Junior Rosegreen is shown at the Peach Bowl.

"We love the new weight room because a lot of top universities would love to have a weight room as good as ours," Rosegreen beams. "Then you add in the hill out there and you have a great training area."

Because he was a safety by trade coming out of high school, Rosegreen had a good idea of what to do and what to expect when the move was made this summer to strong safety. Still he says that he spent a great deal of time not only watching film of his position and this defense, but he also watched some of the greats of the game in action to see how they do things.

"I was a hard worker since I first started playing football," he notes. "I've just always been like that. I'm the type of person that always wants to learn more. I can't stop learning. I'm just the type of player that likes to watch a lot of football and when I watch other people's games I pick up a lot of stuff. Most of the time I watch the best safeties and the best corners in the NFL."

Two of Rosegreen's favorites to watch are Tampa Bay's John Lynch and Philadelphia's Brian Dawkins. While both are very physical players, Lynch and Dawkins also have another trait that Rosegreen covets in a player.

"He brings a different game to the table," Rosegreen says of Lynch. "He's the type of hitter that people fear and he's a leader. Dawkins is a good open field tackler and he's just a leader out there. That's what I look for. I want to be a leader and I'm just not going to lead by talking, I'm going to lead by example. If everybody sees me doing my thing then they are going to want to follow."

Rosegreen expects the following to be done by a talented and hard-working group of freshmen. Already entrenched into workouts this summer and showing they are willing to work hard, he says this class has a chance to be special before they leave.

"Oh man, I like the new kids," Rosegreen says. "They listen and they want to get better. They want to learn and that's the only way to be the best. You have to listen to the people that have been here. If you want to be the best you have to learn from the best. As long as you keep learning the sky is the limit."

Junior Rosegreen is shown during a summer workout at the football complex.

The Tigers hope to learn from last season's disappointing finish to what was once a promising season. With a final record of 7-5, including losses in three of the final four games, you would think that the enthusiasm wouldn't be high around the athletic complex, but Rosegreen says that's not the case with him. A big believer in fate, he says this team has done things the right way and the rewards are just around the corner.

"All I can see is this is just like déjà vu," Rosegreen says with a big smile. "Just like Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. They went 7-5 his first year and then they came back and went 12-0. I just look at that and I've talked to a lot of the guys and they want it. They say they're tired of going to small bowl games. They're tired of not going to the SEC Championship Game. They want to go there and whatever the polls put us after that we're ready for."

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