Rookie DB Eager to Make Collegiate Debut

Auburn free safety Aairon Savage discusses his upcoming first collegiate start.

Auburn, Ala.--If Aairon Savage is the least bit apprehensive about making his first collegiate start on Saturday night, the redshirt freshman is doing a good job of hiding it.

Even the probability that Washington State will test the rookie free safety early and often with a high-powered passing attack doesn't seem to concern the quick and aggressive defensive back.

"I see it as an opportunity to make plays," Savage says of the Cougars' passing game, which put up big numbers last year. "Anytime any defensive back gets to go against a team that throws the ball a lot he should look at it as a chance to make big plays.

"As a group the secondary is ready and confident for this game," the free safety says. He points out that the starters at cornerback, senior David Irons and junior Jonathan Wilhite, are returning starters. Also, the starter at strong safety, junior Eric Brock, started half of the 2005 season.

"They have played and they know what it is like," Savage points out. "They have been helping me so much. We are just ready."

Savage runs after intercepting a pass in a summer workout.

The brother of former University of Oklahoma star Antwone Savage, Auburn's free safety says his brother has given him some good advice for opening night. "He told me to concentrate on the game and try to block out the crowd," Savage says with a smile. "He says if I do that, everything will be fine."

Although he says he is not nervous, Savage admits he is eager to play in his first college game after watching from the sidelines as a redshirt last fall.

"I am getting more excited as the game gets closer and closer," he says. "We are trying to get focused and go out and win this ball game against a good Washington State football team."

Although he played cornerback last season, Savage says making the move to safety this year has not been a problem. "It is not foreign to me," he says. "I am real comfortable there. I played it a little in high school."

Savage says playing that position in defensive coordinator Will Muschamp's system is a rush. "We get to fly around out there and have a lot of fun," he says.

He says on opening night, the key for the secondary to be successful is to communicate with each other while facing what should be a strong passing attack featuring a talented QB in Alex Brink and a good receiver corps led by NFL prospect Jason Hill. "We have come a long way since the start of preseason practice," Savage says. "You could tell we weren't on the same page at first, but as time has progressed we have really come together."

Tiger Ticket Extra: If Savage is correct, Auburn fans don't need to be overly concerned about the rebuilt receiver corps. The defensive back has been butting heads with the group for the past month and throughout the summer in voluntary workouts. "Our receivers are going to be ready," he predicts. "We definitely have SEC quality receivers and they will be ready to get the job done."

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