Freshman Blanc Anxious To Show He Can Play

Redshirt freshman Mike Blanc talks about spring practice and adjusting in his first year at Auburn.

Auburn, Ala.--One of Auburn's deepest positions in the spring is up front on the defensive line. With starters Josh Thompson and Sen'Derrick Marks back for 2007 along with experienced backups Tez Doolittle and Pat Sims, the need for more help in the middle isn't a major one, but if you have a player capable of improving your play then he'll always get a chance. That is the case with redshirt freshman Mike Blanc this spring.

Perhaps the most impressive lineman of a talented freshman class signed last year, Blanc took a redshirt year to improve physically and mentally before stepping on the field. After taking the time to get introduced to life in the SEC, he says that he's now ready to do some damage on the field for the Tigers.

"This spring is moving along pretty fast," Blanc says. "It is my chance to show the coaches that I'm ready so when game time comes they'll put me in. I'm just trying to show the coaches what I can do. My redshirt year helped me out because I got a chance to sit back and learn from the older guys and they showed me the ropes. I'm ready right now."

Blanc goes toe-to-toe with King Dunlap in a pass rush drill.

Like just about every freshman before him, Blanc came in last summer expecting to be ready to play right away for the Tigers. After playing football in one of the most talent-rich areas in the country, Blanc thought he was ready but quickly realized he needed time to adjust to a new brand of football playing on the Division I level.

"There is more learning involved than you think," he says. "I had the mentality that as soon as I got to campus I would be ready, but physically your body has to get ready and mentally you have to get ready. Then you've got to do class work at the same time.

"It's more than football," he adds. "You have to get adjusted to a new life. The redshirt year helped me out a lot. I can't imagine having to be out there and know all these defenses and know all my history and everything else. It helped me out a lot but I think I'm ready now."

Perhaps the biggest adjustment for Blanc and any freshman are the physical demands of playing in the Southeastern Conference. Those start right away for the group because as soon as they arrive on the Auburn campus the summer before their senior years they get to work right away with Strength and Conditioning Coach Kevin Yoxall. Blanc says the first year was tough because your body changes from the college workouts.

"You definitely have to re-train your body," he points out. "At first you gain a little weight and then you work out with Yox and get a little bigger. You have to let your body get adjusted. When I first came in, I was only 272 pounds. Now I'm close to 290. My body gradually got to that weight and I had to adjust with it and get used to it."

At a position where it's normally easier for a backup to get playing time because of the physical demand required to play inside, Blanc says that his goal this season is to get into the rotation and play as much as possible. To do that, he will have to continue to perform well this spring. Blanc says that is the motivation that keeps him going and pushing to be the best.

"It's really exciting for me," he says. "Coach (Don) Dunn is always telling me that he doesn't have a problem playing freshmen if they go out there and bust their tails. I just want to show Coach Dunn that he can count on me and depend on me in the game. That's what I'm trying to do now, in spring practice and the scrimmages, show Coach Dunn and Coach (Will) Muschamp that they can depend on me."


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