No Blood and Tears, But Plenty Of Sweat

Auburn's big offensive linemen were put to the test on the opening day of preseason football practice.

Auburn, Ala.--For the offensive linemen in Auburn's freshmen football class, the opening day of preseason practice included something they were not expecting--overtime.

Position coach Hugh Nall, who wasn't particularly thrilled with his group that includes some highly regarded signees, kept his pupils out on the intramural fields for some extra instruction after the other players had called it a day following the Monday evening workout.

Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill, the six-foot-nine, 350-pounder from Ellenwood, Ga., left a small puddle of perspiration on the ground when he stopped for a post-practice interview. The same was true of fellow freshmen offensive linemen Jonathan Palmer and Troy Reddick.

"We are looking for a couple of offensive linemen," Coach Tommy Tuberville said after the second practice. "Reddick and Marcus McNeill, boy, they look the part. They have a long way to go mentally, but they have good attitudes and are working hard."

McNeill joked that Nall the most memorable part of opening day was position coach Hugh Nall's salty language, something he hadn't heard on the recruiting trail.

"It was harder than I thought," McNeill says of the first two practices. "When we started off with stretching I thought it was going to be a cakewalk, but once we got into it the intensity was real high."

McNeill says he wasn't surprised there were so many one-on-one contact drills with the defensive tackles and ends. "I knew they were going to test me right off the bat."

Palmer says the opening day was definitely a learning experience. "It was good," he says. ‘It was hard work and it definitely let me know where I stood and how much harder I have to work to get better. Coach Nall is a good coach. I like him."

Like McNeill, Palmer says day two will be a time to concentrate on technique.

Troy Reddick is shown at Monday evening's workout.

Reddick, who is from Westover High in Albany, Ga., worked at tackle on Monday. "I have got some things I need to work on and I have to get used to these knee braces they have me wearing," he says. "They make me move much slower." Everything else went about like he expected, Reddick notes. "I was real aggressive like I have always been," he says. "I am still trying to work on my technique."

Tuberville kept an eye on the offensive and defensive linemen at both Monday practices and also spent a good bit of time checking out the six freshmen receivers. They were doing a variety of pass drills and position Greg Knox was doing some advanced work for a first day of practice by having the receivers line up and run patterns from Bobby Petrino's offense. Since all six were here campus at voluntary workouts with the quarterbacks, they have a head start on knowing what to do.

"The one group we are throwing a lot more at is the wide receivers," Tuberville says. "We are really putting a lot on them. We have to evaluate them pretty quick."

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