Safety Becomes Promised Land For Aairon

Redshirt freshman Aairon Savage talks about his preseason working at free safety for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Athletic Aairon Savage was recruited to play cornerback by Auburn, but with the need for help at safety he moved in the spring and after a battle the move has paid dividends for Savage and the Tigers.

He immediately found himself third on the depth chart at the new position, but has come out this fall and worked his way to first-team as the kickoff for the season opener against Washington State is less than two weeks away.

"I played a little safety in high school so it's not foreign to me," Savage says. "I've done it a little bit. It's okay.

"I'm a ballplayer," he adds. "Wherever the coach puts me I'm not going to complain about where I'm at on the field or how I get there. Many people would kill to have the chance that guys like us have--just to be out here and play for Auburn, let alone college football. It's just a privilege to play and compete."

Like many players on Will Muschamp's defense, Savage is still working through some of the kinks with a new system in its first year. When Savage has a question, he says he turns to volunteer student assistant Travaris Robinson for the answers. Robinson played receiver, cornerback and safety at Auburn from 1999-2002.

"There is a lot in there (the playbook), but it all relates to each other," Savage explains. "That helps a whole lot. I try to take an hour a night and just go through it. T-Rob helps me out a whole lot with it on the side. It's a lot, but it all relates.

"He's great," Savage says of Robinson. "I don't know, boy. Without T-Rob it would be much harder. He's always there. He's been at the next level. He's been here. He's an upbeat guy and I love him."

Savage is a physical player despite not being the prototypical size for a safety.

Savage says that it helps having someone there who has been through it on the field as a safety because it's a whole different ballgame and speed once you try to translate the playbook and film study into results on the field.

"We go through it and sometimes it gets cloudy," Savage says. "We can break it down a little bit. It's different sometimes in the film room and on the field so when you get on the field and it happens and you make a mistake then he can draw it up real quick and we can go from there."

Muschamp is counting on Savage to get the job done on opening night. "Aairon does well, he's just young," secondary coach and defensive coordinator says. "He's going to make young mistakes that young players make. On the back end they generally show up a lot more than at noseguard so Aairon is learning the game and learning the position.

"It takes a little time," Muschamp adds. "We are going to reduce things on what we are doing to make sure he understands what to do, how to do it and the right way to do it."

Facing a Pac-10 opponent that passes the ball around as much as the Washington State Cougars do will give Savage an opportunity to see how much progress he has made at safety in his collegiate debut.

"I think about it all the time," he notes. "I'm trying to limit my mistakes and try to make plays. I've got to get everything down, get the signals to my teammates and try to get on the same page. From what I hear, it's real loud in there (Jordan-Hare Stadium). I've got to stay focused because that's the main thing.

"I'm trying to stay focused on what we've got it hand," he adds. "The screaming and all of the people that are going to be there, but the main focus is Washington State and getting on the same page with our teammates."

Savage is currently running ahead of Tristan Davis at the free safety and will likely be the starter, but both will likely get playing time.

2006 Inside the Auburn Tigers Auburn Football Guide

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