Tiger Sophomore Not Content to Be No. 2

Tailback Brad Lester wants to become a bigger part of the Auburn offense.

Auburn, Ala.--For Auburn tailback Brad Lester, what a difference a year can make.

After being plagued by hamstring and groin pull problems that seriously limited him in the spring and preseason prior to the 2005 season, in the season opener against Georgia Tech he was a non-factor in the tailback equation.

However, on opening night 2006, Lester contributed in a big way with two touchdowns in a reserve role behind All-SEC senior Kenny Irons. Lester ran the football six times for 37 yards and one score and caught a screen pass and raced 34 yards down the sideline for another touchdown.

"It feels great," Lester says. "Last year, I didn't get any reps on offense. To come out this year and get a couple of reps and to get in the end zone a couple of times feels good. I feel I am off to a good start and the whole backfield is off to a good start."

Brad Lester is shown in action vs. Washington State.

His position coach, Eddie Gran, says he feels good about how Lester is performing as the Tigers head into game two. Gran notes that the redshirt sophomore has been able to practice every day without the injury issues and that has helped him develop into a back whose playing time could increase as the season progresses.

"What I like about him he is competing," Gran states. "He wants the (starting) job. He knows that getting the job is about production around here."

Lester had a problem in the spring with his weight, which dipped from 190-plus to 178 at one point because the tailback wasn't consuming enough calories on a daily basis. However, with Gran constantly reminding him to keep a close eye on his weight, Lester has steadily worked his way up to a solid 195 pounds and the tailback says he can tell a positive difference when he is running the football.

"The extra weight helps me," he says. "There are two plays (in the Washington State game) that I know for a fact that last year I would have been tackled in the backfield for a loss. Just putting on the extra size and getting my legs stronger, you come out of some tackles a lot easier."

Lester has been working on adding size and muscle this year and has made strides.

Like Gran points out, Lester's goal is to regain the starting tailback job he held briefly last year before being injured as the starter in the first half of Auburn's victory at Arkansas. How often does Lester think about becoming the main man at tailback? "Every time I carry the ball I am thinking...I can't lie," he says. "On the bus ride (to Jordan-Hare Stadium before the Washington State game), I was already thinking about the Arkansas game when I got injured and how it set me back. I will run the ball every down pushing trying to get that spot again."

Like Irons, who had high praise for the rebuilt offensive line's performance in the 40-14 opening night victory, Lester says he is impressed. "They did great. You usually think that the first game it is going to be a grind. It is going to be a lot of tough yards. It wasn't like that at all. It was just like midway through the season."

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