Football News And Notes

Auburn opens full-squad practices Thursday morning with the first of two scheduled workouts to be held at 9 a.m.

Auburn, Ala.--With two days of freshman practices in the books, the Auburn Tigers have the day off from the practice fields as the upperclassmen report for the fall while the freshman class meets with academic counselors. Of the 105 players allowed to report under NCAA rules, Coach Tommy Tuberville and staff welcome back 14 starters and a number of players with experience as the head into one of the tougher schedules in recent years.

While several veterans return, one of the more experienced Tigers is calling it quits this fall. Free safety Stanford Simmons won't return for his senior season in order to handle some off the field concerns. The former high school All-american from Ashland started eight games in 2001 and totaled just 23 tackles with two interceptions. Although he is the most notable, Simmons isn't the only player who won't be returning this season.

Two wide receivers who have struggled to get into the playing rotation at Auburn have also decided to move on. Brian Henderson and Larry Summers, both mired deep down the depth chart at receiver and expected to move even further with the addition of a strong freshman class, have decided to leave the football team. Henderson, a senior at Auburn, is expected to remain on the Plains to work towards his degree while Summers is expected to transfer to Bethune-Cookman in Florida to continue his football career.

With the loss of Simmons, the coaches are looking for a third-team free safety to back up starter Travaris Robinson and backup Donnay Young. Even though redshirt freshman Jared Nelson has the upper hand at the moment, Tuberville says the coaching staff isn't counting out of the possibility of a true freshman getting into the rotation.

"Will Herring has made a big move," Tuberville says. "We were thinking of possibly redshirting Will and we still might. But I tell you what, he picks up things quick and covers a lot of field. He has good anticipation. He's not afraid to learn and we're looking for another safety. We won't count him out. We talked about him today for 35 or 40 minutes in the staff meeting and that's pretty unusual for a freshman. We'll make a decision after about this time next week on a lot of these guys. How much they can learn, that's the big thing."

One of the freshmen expected to come in and play an immediate role is defensive end Ben Grubbs from Elmore County High. A linebacker coming out of high school, Grubbs has grown and is now over 250 pounds. With the size to play and the athletic ability, all that was left was for him to learn the ins and outs of the position, something he says has already begun under the tutelage of position coach Terry Price.

"My first day I had to come out and learn what to do, how to practice and what speed level to go on," Grubs notes. "The second day we watched the film and came out and corrected what mistakes I had. It turned out that it was right and I gave it all I had. There were just a couple of techniques that I needed to learn, a couple of moves and then show quickness. There wasn't too much.

"I knew that it was going to be tough," he says of the first two days of practice. "I just came out and did what I had to do. I came out and worked hard knowing that it was going to be hard. I'm just going to get some rest, get my academic work and come out to work on Thursday."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Thursday morning is the first day of two-a-day practices for the full squad this fall. The team will have meetings beginning at 8 a.m. and then head down to the practice fields behind the athletic complex for the first practice of the fall for the full squad. Following the workout there will be a short special teams practice to give the newcomers and veterans a chance to see who will fit in coverage and return situations. The afternoon practice will begin at roughly 4:45 and will be held on the intramural fields. The schedule will remain the same for Friday as well. On Saturday the team will practice at 7 a.m. before heading to Fan Day at 1 p.m. at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Sunday the Tigers will put on the pads for the first time. Practice is scheduled for 4:45 on the intramural fields and is open to the public.

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