One of the players to watch is Montez Billings, a 6-2, 185-pounder from Pelham High School. A player who caught 152 passes for 2,315 yards in high school, he is coming off of a redshirt season.
"He has shown some real improvement," Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "He was probably our most improved player among the receivers from the start to the finish of spring training.
"He has taken that another step in preseason practice," Borges says. "He has learned how to get off press coverage better. He is tracking the ball better. He is catching it better. I think he is going to contribute in some way this season."
The redshirt freshman came to Auburn as a good athlete who was rated the No. 2 prospect in the state by The Birmingham News as a high school senior behind Auburn redshirt freshman tight end Tommy Trott. However, he was a skinny 175-pounder and the decision was made to concentrate on getting him ready for the 2006 campaign with the Tigers featuring three senior wideouts last fall.
" I believe I am a whole lot better than last year," says Billings, who notes the extra 10 pounds of muscle has made a positive difference.
Montez Billings (84) runs a pass route in the 11 on 11 drills at Saturday's practice. Pat Lee (20), a cornerback, has the coverage.
Billings also notes that he is a work in progress. "I have been doing a couple of things wrong, but they are small things," he says. "I need to play smarter. I need to get better at everything I am doing. I want to work hard and go out there every day and do my best."
The wide receiver says despite losing Ben Obomanu, Devin Aromashodu and Anthony Mix from last year's team, a trio of former Tigers currently in NFL camps, Billings notes that he believes the Tigers can have another good group of wideouts this year. "We have got a whole lot of potential," he says.
The redshirt freshmen is keeping his goals rather modest for 2006. "I want play smarter and I just want to get on the field and help the team."
Billings and his teammates will have the day off on Monday before taking the field for practices at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday and 4:30 p.m. that day. The Tigers are scheduled to practice once on Wednesday at 4:45 p.m., twice on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and once on Friday at 9:45 a.m. All of those sessions are at the intramural fields. The Tigers will have a scrimmage at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.