Auburn Lineman Berry Versatile

Mike Berry discusses his role on the Auburn offensive line.

Auburn, Ala.--Lining up at center, guard and tackle before eventually redshirting, Mike Berry played musical chairs up and down the offensive line last season.

According to line coach Hugh Nall, there are five chairs open on the front line and Berry is hoping to have a seat at the table by the time the Kansas State Wildcats come to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 1.

The year before Tommy Tuberville and his staff arrived at Auburn, Tiger fans learned the hard way that there can never be too many centers on the roster. The 1998 squad, which finished 3-8, had to resort to the fifth option at the position because of attrition and injuries.

So even though Berry may have a fighting chance to be a starter before it's all said and done, he's beginning preseason practices as the No. 2 center behind Jason Bosley, who is limited because of a strained pectoral muscle.

Mike Berry snaps the football in the first preseason practice on Thursday.

"I don't think you can ever have enough centers," Nall notes. "All of the positions are wide open, especially the right tackle position. I was not happy with that position out of the spring. I liked what I saw today (Thursday) over there, but we've got to get in the pads before we know anything.

"Mike Berry has proven to me that he's capable of being one of the starting five somewhere," Nall notes. "Right now that's the main position I'd give him a look at, and possibly other positions if somebody is not performing well."

Berry doesn't seem to care where he plays, just as long as he's in the lineup somewhere.

"Right now I'm at center, but it's not exclusive," he explains. "Probably before camp is over I'm going to hit up guard, right tackle and wherever Coach Nall wants me, that's where I'm going to be. Last year in the fall I did mostly guard and tackle. In the spring since we had such a shortage at center, I played at center. Of course, we've got (Ryan) Pugh there, too, so we'll see how he does. I hope he does good.

"I have to see shakes out," Berry continues. "I'm just competing to get on the field wherever that is. Like Coach Nall says, every position is open and we're here to compete. We're like a family, but you compete so everybody gets better."

When Berry arrived in Auburn last fall, he didn't pass the so-called looks test compared to guys like King Dunlap and Ben Grubbs. However, he quickly showed that even at a little overweight he could move his feet and even got some reps with the ones. A year later, Berry says he's checking in at 6-3, 313 pounds and is looking forward to competing this fall.

"I was actually up to 330 because I got here and started eating good and packing on the weight," he says. "But then those redshirt workouts got it off me. I'm trying to stick to (assistant strength and conditioning) Coach (Joseph) Walker's plan to try to eat six times a day, small meals. I'm trying to keep my carbs up, but I'm drinking a lot of shakes so it's more protein."


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