Auburn, Ala.--If you ask Coach Eddie Gran he'll tell you that junior tailback Carl Stewart is playing the best football this August since coming to Auburn in the fall of 2003.
He added weight during the off season and has been running tougher than ever without losing a step. On Sunday Gran singled out Stewart as a player who has turned heads in recent practices.
"Coach Gran is so particular on everything he wants," Stewart notes. "He's definitely a perfectionist out there so to get praise like that I had to do a lot of work to impress him."
Playing this year between 225 and 230 pounds, up from 210 a season ago, Stewart has stepped up his all around game and looks to be a bigger part of the offense this year.
At 6-2, Stewart is lean for a 225-230 pound back.
"My main emphasis since I've been here is to try to get pass protection down," he notes. "I know for a running back that's key one. After that everything kind of falls into place."
The additional weight caused Stewart some back problems this summer, but he says he has adjusted to it just fine during preseason camp. It will also add a new dimension to offensive coordinator Al Borges' attack that the Tigers didn't use as much last year.
"I feel a lot more aggressive," Stewart says. "When I got hit I was going straight to the sideline regardless of what the play is. Now I feel like I can head up a linebacker. I take people head on from now on.
"You'll see me at plain fullback--hardnosed on lead plays and draws," he adds. "I'll be out there at receiver running deep balls, slants and all of that. And then I've still got my regular time at tailback. The main word I can say is ‘versatility.'"