Waiting Is Done For Talented Football Freshmen

Thirty-five freshmen football players reported to campus on Sunday. They will begin practice with two workouts on Monday.

Auburn, Ala.--With cars packed to the roof with their belongings and mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers in tow, 35 freshmen football players reported to campus on Sunday.

In addition to having their first team meeting as a group, the freshmen were fitted with practice gear and the ones who had not been on campus earlier this summer took physicals.

At 9:30 a.m. on Monday they will have their first official college practice followed by a 4:45 p.m. workout later in the day. Then freshmen will work out two times again on Tuesday (9:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.) and will be off on Wednesday, the day the returning players report. At 7 a.m. on Thursday the newcomers will take part in their first full squad practice.

Tailback Tre Smith says he does not plan on redshirting.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville says he is going to give special attention to the freshmen wide receivers this year. Five have been on campus virtually all summer working out. That group includes Devin Aromashodu, Lee Guess, Anthony Mix, Ben Obomanu and Courtney Taylor. Tuberville says that three to five of the true freshmen could break into the playing rotation.

"We have a good group this year with a mixture of speed and guys who can catch the football," Tuberville says. Counting special teams play, Tuberville says that 10-15 could see action in the opener on Sept. 3rd at Southern Cal.

"This group of freshmen receivers has been working hard all summer and the coaches have gotten good reports on them," Tuberville says. "It is our understanding that they have been pushing the older guys and have made them improve. It is important that we add speed at the receiver positions and we are expecting that several guys from this class will be ready to immediately help us in that area."

Tight end signee Justin Bruce of Pepperell High in Lindale, Ga., did not report with the other freshmen on Sunday because he is currently unable to practice while he does rehab for a disk injury in his neck. The problem was found by AU team physicians during a routine physical in July. Tuberville says that Bruce, who worked out some on campus this summer with his future teammates, should be able to start practicing around the first game of the season. Bruce, who is 6-9, 260 pounds, is scheduled to redshirt this fall.

Tuberville says that Mix, a 6-5, 239-pounder from Baldwin County High who did not play football last year because he was injured while attending Hargrave Military Academy, will get his first look at wideout. The coach says that if Mix doesn't look good at that position after approximately a week of workouts, he will be moved to defensive end.

Mix says he doesn't plan to let that happen. "I am in great shape," he says. "I have been catching the ball well and I am faster than ever. I want to be a wide receiver."

"It's a good group of players," Tuberville told sportswriters on Sunday evening who gathered to watch the newcomers check in. "Most of these players have been here for at least a month. It is really going to help the players that have been here. Obviously, they will have an advantage starting in the next few days because they understand what we're going to ask of them."

One of the few Tigers who did not work out on campus this summer, linebacker Tyrone Martin of Benjamin Russell, says he isn't worried about being behind the others or the formidable competition at linebacker. "I am in great shape and have been working out in the heat and cutting grass in the heat," he says. "I am anxious to get started and show what I can do."

Martin and the other freshmen will get plenty of chances to do that starting Monday morning. The group includes 11 invited walk-ons, including a pair of quarterbacks who have been working out on campus this summer--6-4, 215-pound Josh Sullivan from Central High in Little Rock, Ark., and 6-2, 190-pound Patrick Brown from Lassiter High in Marietta, Ga.

The biggest walk-on is a whopper--6-4, 385-pounder Juan Garnier from Everett High in Boston, Mass. He even stands out in a class full of huge offensive linemen led by 6-9, 357-pound Marcus McNeill from Ellenwood, Ga.

Marcus McNeill is literally a big man on campus.

Other offensive line walk-ons include guard Joe Cope, a 6-1, 250-pounder from Andalusia High; Brian Watson, a 6-4, 310 guard from Tri-Cities High in College Park, Ga., and 6-4, 205 deep snapper Coby Roberts from Stanhope-Elmore High. The Tigers may be getting another walk-on offensive lineman, 6-7, 295-pound Thomas Anderson from Jess Lanier High in Bessemer via Butler County, Kan., Community College. Anderson has not yet been accepted for admission at AU.

Walk-on quarterback Josh Sullivan was an All-State player at Central High in Little Rock, Ark. He has shown a strong arm in summer workouts.

Other walk-ons include 5-10, 238 fullback Eric Frazier from Sandy Creek High in Fairburn, Ga., 6-3, 220 defensive end Rick Pollard from Dalton, Ga., High, 6-2, 205 kicker Stephen Powell from Stanhope-Elmore High, 6-2, 180 cornerback A.J. Ruffin from Choctaw County High and 6-1, 190 safety Pete Ruzicka from Senecca Valley High in Cranberry Township, Pa. The group of walk-ons is expected to give the Tigers their full allotment of 105.


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