Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers put on the shoulder pads for the first time Saturday morning as a split-squad group featuring mostly freshmen worked out for an hour and a half on the intramural fields. While the weather was scorching hot with a heat index of 95 degrees by the time the players exited the practice field, offensive coordinator Al Borges says the players kept their wits about them and had a good day on the field.
"Today was better because we didn't put anything in," Borges says. "Usually what we do during two-a-days is we inundate them with offense for the first four or five days. What we did this time is we took two days to install and then today we reviewed. Actually you could tell because they weren't near as confused today as the first two days. Tomorrow we're going to start installing again so there will be a little brain lock. The kids are having some fun I think."
It wasn't much fun to be some of the guys on the field for the first practice on Saturday though as players such as Brad Lester, John Douglas, Brandon Haley, Antoine Carter, Zach Clayton and Bryant Miller took every rep without a backup in site. That made for a tough day for Miller as he worked inside at tackle before leaving the practice late with cramps.
Bryant Miller and Zach Clayton get upfield while Michael Hatter tries to keep Miller at bay.
A taxing day for everyone involved because of the heat, Lester says having to work every rep on Saturday and for the first three practices as the only tailback has only made him stronger.
"The last three days have been long," Lester says. "He (Eddie Gran) wanted me to come out here and get a lot of reps and try to get in good game shape because in regular practices you don't get reps like this. He was laughing in the meeting yesterday because in the second practice all the guys were getting tired. We did the same thing in the first practice and we had one running back. He said ‘we've got three of ya'll in the second practice and you're getting tired'. It's just about getting in shape and it's good for me."
Projected to be the starting tailback for the Tigers this season, Lester has been questioned about whether he could get the job done and be the every down back Auburn has had the luxury of having since Rudi Johnson in 2000. He says the last three days have been almost a point of pride for him because it has showed everyone involved how ready he is to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
"Coach Gran has said during the meetings that I'm doing the practices by myself so the other guys have no excuse not to be able to do the second practice," Lester says. "That makes me want to work even harder."
As one of the only veterans on the field, Lester has had an up close look at the future of Auburn football on both offense and defense. He says from what he has seen and observed in the huddle that things are going to be just fine. Some guys that have caught his eye already are fullback John Douglas and quarterback Kodi Burns as well as the entire young offensive line.
"This freshman group (offensive line), they look as good as the regular group," Lester says. "All of these guys are going to fit in well. John has been perfect. He had not missed an assignment the first two days but I don't know about today. I see him stepping in playing right away.
"I like Kodi," he adds. "He's going to be a good addition for us and he's fast too. He seems like he's going to be a Troy Smith type quarterback in a couple of years. I like him. He looks real good. Blake (Blake Field) has also done well. Blake is the number two quarterback but Kodi is going to battle him for that spot."
The afternoon session has been pushed back to 5 p.m. on Saturday with the majority of the veterans expected for the practice. It will also be a chance for the Tigers to work on the kicking game once again under the watchful eye of Gran and Coach Tommy Tuberville.
Tiger Ticket Extra: Standout defensive end Cameron Henderson from Shades Valley High in Birmingham was in attendance at Saturday morning's practice along with teammate Van Phillips. The 6-6, 220 Henderson is a player that is expected to commit to the Tigers and it could be as early as Sunday. A solid player in his own right, the 6-1, 190 Phillips is receiving interest from a variety of schools including Auburn, Alabama, Southern Miss, Mississippi State and UAB.