Tate Battling For Playing Time at Tailback

After doing well in limited duty as a true freshman, Ben Tate is looking to challenge for the vacant tailback job with Kenny Irons graduated.

Auburn, Ala.--Ben Tate gave his coaches, teammates and Auburn fans a good look at his potential last season as a true freshman.

With the Tigers now into the full contact portion of spring football drills, the sophomore is in the middle of what looks to be a good battle for playing time at the tailback spot with juniors Brad Lester and Tristan Davis along with redshirt freshman Mario Fannin.

Tate played in nine games last season and ran the ball 54 times for 392 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

An early high school graduate, Tate is going through his second collegiate spring training. He says he has made significant progress in the past year.

"I have improved dramatically mentally and physically," the running back says. "I am toned up more. I understand what is going on more than I did last spring. I actually weigh about the same as I did last season. I range from 212 to 215 pounds, but I don't have as much body fat as I did last year."

Having a season of playing experience will make him a better player this year, Tate says. "Being out on the field in front of the crowd and getting a couple of reps helps a great deal," he notes.

Tate says he hasn't set any goals for his sophomore season on the football field. "I haven't really been thinking about that," he notes. "I have been more focused on my school work and keeping my grades up."

Tate runs the football for the 2006 Tigers, who finished the season 11-2.

The tailback says he is excited about seeing how good the Tigers can be on offense this season. "Believe it or not, I think we have a lot more potential than we did last year," he says. "We are young, but I think we are more explosive and we have more playmakers this year.

"I think we can be back to a more powerful offense like the team had during the unbeaten 2004 season," Tate says. "I think our offense has that potential with Brandon Cox back if he can stay healthy. I think we have a chance to be great."

A big concern this season is rebuilding the offensive line with four starters to replace. However, Tate says he likes the guys who will be blocking for him and the other running backs this season. "I think this year's offensive line has a chance to be better than last year's offensive line," he says. "These guys are a little inexperienced, but they have great potential. If they come together, I think you will see some big numbers from us rushing and passing."

Tate and the Tigers completed their third practice on Thursday. They will work out again on Friday afternoon and have their first scrimmage of the spring at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

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