Tuberville Discusses Football Redshirting

A report on the Auburn football team's return to practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville has long been in favor of eliminating the redshirt rule in college football in favor of allowing all incoming freshmen five seasons of eligibility.

So far he hasn't had luck with making that happen, but the Auburn head coach says he is encouraged progress is being made on that front.

"I talked to a lot of my cohorts across the country and saw quite a few of them in New York at the Hall of Fame (National Football Foundation ceremony) a week ago," Tuberville says. "I talk about redshirting every year with the guys, and what they tried to do. Did you try to redshirt as many as you could?

"It's still the norm of everyone to try to do that," the coach adds. "Most freshmen are not ready to play mentally. We had several this year who I thought could have helped us in the last four or five games, but do you want to sacrifice four or five games for an entire season?"

Freshman defensive back Zaccheus Etheridge is a player who could play either safety or corner for the Tigers down the road.

Tuberville notes that he and other coaches are struggling to decide whether to use a player as a true freshman or redshirt him in hopes you will have him as a much better player for a redshirt senior season down the road.

"We are still pushing for five years," Tuberville says. "We will continue to do that. That has been put in front of the American Football Coaches Association and (NCAA President) Myles Brand, and I think he is on our side now. Hopefully, we don't have to talk about redshirts much longer. Hopefully, we can get that five years of eligibility."

For the present, however, Tuberville redshirted virtually his entire signee class. Tailback Ben Tate and defensive lineman Jermarcus Ricks are exceptions. The redshirted players are getting extra attention from the coaching staff in this week's practices as the Tigers hit the practice field for the first time on Thursday since closing the regular season with a win at Alabama.

"We have so many that we need to look at," says Tuberville. "I am going to watch the film, and I'll look more to the film of our younger players than I will what our older players did today...It's going to be pretty important for us to evaluate the next 12 or 14 practices with our young players trying to get them in the right positions for the March spring practice and trying to start putting the football team together for next year."

At the end of Thursday's regular practice, the veteran players did conditioning drills while the redshirting players and others who have seen limited action stayed on the practice field for extra drills. That will be the game plan for the next week before the Tigers break for a Christmas vacation.

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