Preseason All-SEC Pick Eager to Play Ball

Auburn's leading returning tackler talks about the 2006 football season.

Auburn, Ala.--Will Herring left high school as a standout quarterback, began college as a free safety and will be wrapping up his collegiate career this fall as a linebacker for the Auburn Tigers.

Representing his team along with fellow fifth-year senior Courtney Taylor at SEC Media Days on Friday, Herring says he has enjoyed the ride in college and notes that he is more than a little excited about his new role as Auburn's starting strongside linebacker.

"I think it is a lot of fun," says Herring, who was selected first team preseason All-SEC by sportswriters and broadcasters covering the three-day event. "I am kind of an emotional guy before games. In high school when you are a quarterback there is so much thinking involved you kind of got to stay calm. You have to keep your composure.

"At linebacker it really doesn't matter," he notes. "It is just see the ball, hit the ball and make something happen. It is a lot of fun and safety was the same way. You are about like a linebacker, especially in our scheme."

Auburn was selected by the media to not only win the SEC West, the Tigers are also predicted to win the overall league title. Herring says that is nice, but notes, "To be honest, we really haven't gotten caught up in the headlines and expectations for us. I fully believe that coming out of last season, looking at the team we have got, that we are going to have a great team this year.

Will Herring spoke at SEC Media Days on Friday.

"If we come together like I think we are capable of and have the chemistry we had two years ago, that definitely carries over on the field," he says. :I hope the same thing happens this year."

Herring and the Tigers will take the practice for the first time on Wednesday as they begin preparations for the Sept. 2nd home opener vs. Washington State.

The senior will not only be playing a new position, he will be playing for a new linebacker coach, James Willis who replaced Joe Whitt, and will also be playing for a new defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, who took over in the spring for David Gibbs.

Herring says it took just a few minutes of practice in the spring to figure out that Muschamp is an intense coach. "When you get on that field, he is going to light a fire under you," Herring says. "You better be ready to work."

The senior linebacker is shown during a workout earlier this month.

Herring points out that he really likes the blitz packages that the new coordinator has brought. "I would say 50 percent of our defensive scheme for this season is new," he says.

Herring was joined at SEC Media Days by senior wide receiver Courtney Taylor and Tommy Tuberville, the head coach of the Tigers. Herring says that playing for the Tigers and Tuberville in particular has been special. "I respect him. It has been a huge honor to get to know him and play for him."

Both Herring and Taylor got a lot of questions about returning All-SEC tailback Kenny Irons. Herring says that going against the senior in practice gets him ready for whatever he may face on game days.

"He is one of the best running backs in the country in the open field," Herring says. "If I can tackle him two out of three times, I can probably tackle most guys nine out of 10 times. He is just like a motorboat out there. His motor never stops running. He is so powerful in his hips and his legs when you hit him you better hit through him. You aren't going to be able to just grab onto him and pull him down."

After redshirting as a freshman, Herring has started the past three seasons at free safety. In spring training he made the move to strongside linebacker and won praise from Willis for his play there. He led the team in tackles last season with 69 and it won't be a surprise to his coaches if he does it again as a senior.

"I think we are going to have a strong team and I am excited about getting started," Herring says.

2006 Inside the Auburn Tigers Auburn Football Guide

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories