Tiger Signee All-Stars Looking for Big Finish

Auburn signees Eltoro Freeman and Jared Cooper talk about playing in the upcoming Alabama-Mississippi All-Star football game Saturday night.

Mobile, Ala.--When Alabama takes on Mississippi Saturday night in the annual interstate showdown at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, the Auburn Tigers will be well represented with four players on the Alabama squad and one playing for Mississippi.

Two of the key players for the Alabama squad will be linebacker Eltoro Freeman from Alexander City's Benjamin Russell High and offensive lineman Jared Cooper from W.S. Neal High in Brewton. Perhaps the two most physical players on the Alabama team, the duo head into the all-star game ready to show they are ready for prime time and life as a college football player.

Jared Cooper, Nick Fairley, Ryan Williams and Eltoro Freeman will be playing for Alabama. Chaz Ramsey will suit up for Mississippi.

While both will be trying to finish their high school careers on a high note, Freeman is also looking to jump-start his Auburn career right away. With the Tigers losing sophomore strongside linebacker Patrick Trahan to academics following the spring semester, they will be forced to make some depth chart changes heading into practices in August.

One of the moves will be to send redshirt freshman Craig Stevens to the strong side from his weak side spot. That leaves a hole on the outside that the bigger and stronger Freeman is anxious to try to fill.

"I'm playing the strong side this week, but at Auburn I'll be playing the weak side," Freeman says. "My former teammate Michael Goggans told me to be ready to play and I might start as a freshman. He just said to come in and play and I might get a shot because of the linebacker situation.

"I'm up to 6-0, 215," a smiling Freeman adds. "I think that's really going to help me this fall. The bigger and faster you are, I think it gives you a great chance to get on the field."

Singled out as one of the top defensive players on the Alabama squad this week by the coaching staff, Freeman says that he's ready to finish things off with a victory in Saturday's game. After that it's all about Auburn for Freeman as he says he can't wait to get on the field and see how things shake out.

"I report to Auburn on June 10," Freeman says. "I can't wait to get down there so me and Tray Blackmon can hit some folks. I have already started my workouts. Coach Yox (Kevin Yoxall) sent them to me and I've got a head start."

Cooper is also expected to report around the same time as Freeman along with many of Auburn's other signees. Playing tackle this week in the game, Cooper is expected to get his first shot at guard for the Tigers. A consummate team player, the imposing Cooper says the week has been a fun one for he and his teammates.

"It has been going good," the 6-4, 295 Cooper says. "Everything has been real intense. We've had two practices a day for the last few days. We're really getting after it. A lot of us played together in the Junior All-Star game last year so we already know each other. We came together pretty well."

Cooper works on his run blocking during Thursday's practice.

Unlike Freeman who is hoping to work his way into the playing rotation at linebacker, Cooper is well aware that his freshman season will likely be spent as a redshirt. If that is the case, he says he wants his last real game for a while to be a good one.

"Winning is the big thing," Cooper says. "You always want to perform well but the biggest thing is just to win."

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