Newly Graduated Brock Ready to Return

A second generation Auburn man, Eric Brock is expected to return to the starting lineup.

Auburn, Ala.--When Eric Brock takes the field in Dallas for his final game of his redshirt junior season, the safety from Alex City will do it as an Auburn graduate.

As Auburn began on-the-field bowl preparations for its New Year's Day football matchup vs. the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Brock missed one of the practices for the best of reasons. He walked across the stage at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum to receive his degree in public administration.

"I am very excited about being a graduate," Brock tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "That was a my first goal when I got to college, but I didn't think it would happen this fast.

"I am really excited," Brock adds. "I got my degree early because of a lot of support from our academic staff. They let you go to class and earn credits during the summer. It is a matter of staying motivated and making sure you get your work done."

Brock says he hasn't decided on what he will do academically in 2007. He may work on adding another minor to his degree or do an internship while playing his final season of college football as a returning starter.

Missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, in 10 starts this season he has 45 tackles, which is fourth on the team. He has deflected six passes and intercepted two.

Brock's father, Jimmy, also played for Auburn and notes that it was a very happy day for the whole family when Eric picked up his degree. "Eric has matured a great deal in college and our whole family is proud of him," the former Tiger says.

The defensive back agrees that his graduation is a big deal in the Brock family. "Being that my mom and and dad graduated from Auburn, it makes it even more special for me and my family to receive my degree. It is a second generation going through and it is a real blessing for me."

On graduation day the Brock family celebrated the Auburn player's graduation. Left to right are his sister Ariel, his aunt Ethel, his mother Helen, Eric and his father Jimmy.

Brock notes that he is excited about playing again after being sidelined with an ankle injury. "Not playing the Alabama game was killing me," he says. "It was good to see the guys out there flying around and having fun.

"Anytime you don't get a chance to play against Alabama, it really eats you up knowing that you can't be out there helping your teammates," he adds. "It hurt me not being able to be out there. I was on the sideline supporting them when we beat Alabama and even during the tough loss to Georgia. I am just happy to be back and contributing to the bowl game."

Brock and his teammates return to practice on Wednesday at the SMU campus to resume preparing of the New Year's Day game vs. Nebraska.

"I am doing well," the safety says. "When I was finally able to go out to practice and do every period, that was exciting because it was the first time I have been able to do it for several months. My ankle is still a little sore, but for the most part it is holding up well and I think I have been doing a decent job in practice.

"I am looking forward to the bowl game," Brock adds. "I have never been to Texas or anywhere close to Dallas so it is going to be exciting. I am looking forward to playing Nebraska and I think that is the mindset of the whole football team. I think the team is going to be really focused and ready to go out there and play."

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville says he is pleased that Brock earned his degree and notes that the Tigers now have 16 graduated players on the 2006 team with being joined by fellow redshirt juniors Quentin Groves and Patrick Lee on the December graduation list along with seniors Kenny Irons and Brant Haynie plus former Tiger linebacker Derrick Graves.

Eric Brock was a part-time starter in 2005, but has been a regular this year.

"This has always been a good group of players, both on and off the field," Tuberville says. "It is good to see a guy like Eric Brock do well. He came in to our program and has worked his way up. He has always been a blue collar player and I think this has been his best year. We are excited he has one more year to go.

"I am proud of Eric and I am proud of all of the guys who have graduated," Tuberville adds.

On New Year's Day, Brock and the Tigers will kick off at 10:40 a.m. in an SEC vs. Big 12 matchup as Auburn faces Nebraska for the first time since 1982. Auburn is 0-3 vs. the Cornhuskers, who bring a 9-4 record into the contest vs. the 10-2 Tigers.

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