Bigger DB Looking to Earn Bigger Role in '07

Young players like Walter McFadden are looking to earn the respect of the coaching staff this spring.

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp says he is eager to see how backup cornerback Walter McFadden performs this spring.

Bigger, stronger and with 11 games of reserve duty experience last season, the speedy redshirt sophomore from Ely High in Pompano Beach, Fla., is a player to watch this spring for the Auburn Tigers.

"I am doing all right," McFadden says. "I am still learning some of the defenses he (Muschamp) is throwing at us right now. I am also learning from the older guys.

"It is a good opportunity for me this spring," McFadden says. "I have a lot of good guys ahead of me. I watch what they do and if they make a mistake I try not to make the same mistake. If they do something right, I just take advantage of what they did and use it for myself."

McFadden arrived at Auburn as a fast but extremely skinny defensive back in the fall of 2005. "I am up to 180 pounds now," the six-footer says with a smile. "When I first came into college, I weighed 154 pounds. Last year I got into the 170s. Hopefully, by the first game this year I will at least get a solid 185."

On the field, McFadden says he is still adjusting to Muschamp's aggressive style of play in the secondary that includes larges doses of press-man coverage by the cornerbacks. That means he often goes nose to nose with wide receivers at the line of the scrimmage, which requires speed and toughness.

"Just being patient at the line is something I am working on," says McFadden. "I know I can run with people and everything. My problem is, I guess, is that I am scared to get beat deep. I just need to be more patient at the line. That is something I am going to work on the whole spring.

"When I came out of high school, we were just a zone team," McFadden points out. "We never pressed. I kind of like it now. It is one on one and you can't get beat. The quarterback can only take like a second to look over at you. If he sees you have the receiver covered he is going to have to look somewhere else. I like what we are doing because I believe it will give us an opportunity to make more interceptions."

McFadden and the Tigers will have their first scrimmage of spring training on Saturday, which will be their fifth of the 15 days of spring practice. The sophomore says he believes the Tigers have a chance to be strong defensively this season.

"We did very well last year and we were just learning the defense," McFadden says. "Now that we are already into the defense, we should be even better."

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