Position Change Highlights Final Freshman Practice

A position change highlighted the final of four freshman workouts on the Auburn campus Tuesday afternoon as the coaching staff put the finishing touches on an introductory course of Auburn football before the upperclassmen arrive Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Auburn, Ala.—With fellow signee Justin Bruce forced to sit out this season and rehabilitate a neck injury suffered during his senior season, Anthony Mix was moved to tight end Tuesday afternoon to shore up what had suddenly become a slight depth problem for the Tigers. Working with new graduate assistant coach Steve Dennis, Mix gives the coaching staff a definite deep threat at the position but coach Tommy Tuberville said following the day that they're still not sure if the move is going to be a permanent one.

"That's just an experiment to look at him over there and see what he can do," Tuberville noted. "We'll leave him there and teach him for a couple of days. We need another tight end. We only have three. He's the obvious choice because he's going to get bigger and bigger. But I'm not going to count him out of playing receiver. He knows enough right now to play receiver up until a point of about Saturday. After Saturday we'll have to make a decision because he'll have to go back over there if we're going to need him at receiver."

Anthony Mix runs a route from the tight end position on Wednesday.

Other than the position move, things were pretty much the same as a normal freshmen practice as the players continued to work on fundamentals with position coaches. Following a continued refresher course on the finer points of the game, both the offense and defense got together to work on specific plays and calls. Moving farther ahead than a normal freshman group, Tuberville said he was impressed with what he saw in the two days of work.

"We made a lot of progress with this group because they are in a lot better shape than any group that we've had in," he noted. "We really jumped over a lot of things that we would really have to go over and we jumped straight into the meat of the matter, so to speak. We put a lot of the offense and defense in and these guys are picking it up pretty good. Now we'll rehash it with them for a couple of days with the varsity and they'll have to grab a hold and hold on because it will get a lot more complicated."

One position that seems to have been helped tremendously is at defensive end where Ben Grubbs and Kyle Derozan continue to shine in team drills and one-on-one work. Needing one or both to come in and play right away, Tuberville said that again it all comes back to the hard work this class put in over the summer.

"Kyle and Ben have done a good job," he said. "Both will have a chance to play this year. We are going to throw them into the mix. We're going to need depth there at that position…defensive linemen or offensive linemen can't play unless they are in great shape. They're not in playing shape yet but they are a lot closer than they would have ever been if they hadn't shown up two months ago."

Off all the positions where a freshman can help, perhaps the offensive line is the toughest of those to master. With four freshmen trying to catch the coaches eye and win a spot in the playing rotation, Tuberville said he's just happy with the effort the big guys and the entire team have given the coaches the first two days of work.

"We've got good athletes that are in a lot better shape than any big offensive linemen," Tuberville said. These guys are big, they're gigantic. Will Ward has had a good two days of practice. That's probably the toughest position to come in and play early and play it well. They have so much technique to learn and so much that they have to learn of the offense. I couldn't be any more pleased with all these guys, not just the offensive linemen. This is what you work for. The hard work and the effort of these coaches for three years paid off. This class is pretty special."

The freshmen get a chance to get acquainted with the support staff for Auburn football on Wednesday as they spend the day working on academics, meeting with counselors, and getting used to the facilities and things at their disposal. The upperclassmen check in at 5 p.m. Wednesday night where they will have a team meeting followed by a senior meeting to discuss the goals and focus for the coming year. They begin practice on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. on the intramural fields. All two-a-day workouts are open to the public.

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