Tuberville: Suspension Best for Blackmon

Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville discusses the now ended suspension of Tray Blackmon.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville says that Tray Blackmon's teammates rallied around the Auburn redshirt freshman while the talented young linebacker spent the first half of the season suspended from the football team.

Tuberville lifted the suspension this week and the weakside linebacker is expected to see his first college action on Saturday night vs. Florida. Blackmon says he has no problem with the length of his suspension. "The coaches are doing what they think is the right thing and I know they have my best interest at heart," he says.

Blackmon adds that he is excited about the opportunity to play his first college game against undefeated and second ranked Florida in a nationally-televised game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"You break a rule and most of them understand what the penalties are," Tuberville says. "I always look at all of them different, but you also look at what is best for them. I wasn't looking at what's best for this team. We are looking out for these young kids and what is best for them 15-20 years from now. It will help our team, but it will help them more."

Blackmon was suspended from the Auburn team after being arrested in May back home in LaGrange, Ga., on alcohol-related charges. The coaching staff found out about the incident only after it was reported in a Georgia newspaper.

"I think that he is a much more attentive young man," Tuberville says. "He made a mistake and he understood he paid the price for it. I think he will be not only a better football player for us, but he is going to be a much better person. I think he understands that.

Tray Blackmon finished spring training number one on the depth chart at weakside linebacker.

"The players have rallied around him," Tuberville adds. "That's what this is about. It's about young guys growing up and being good people and understanding the difference between right and wrong.

"We are not looking for a way around it," the coach says. "We didn't from day one. He knew it. I never had one player come to me saying, ‘We need him, we need him.' Players understand that you do things the right way and you have the opportunity to be rewarded with playing this game of football and representing Auburn. I think that is the most important thing."

Auburn coaches note that either Blackmon or Merrill Johnson will start at weakside linebacker vs. the Gators.

"He's practiced well," Tuberville says. "He's been looking forward to this. He is going to be a little rusty. He has never played in a college football game so we'll have to see how that comes."

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