Young Lineman Making Progress for Tigers

An Auburn football reports features a second-year Tiger.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the young football players who has improved his stock with the Auburn coaching staff in recent weeks is redshirt freshman offensive guard Byron Isom.

Making the move from defensive tackle to the offensive front, Isom made progress at his guard position in the spring and appears to have accelerated his learning in preseason workouts.

With injuries to the projected starters at guard, Leon Hart (ankle sprain) and Tyronne Green (toe), there has been ample opportunities for the backups to work with the ones and twos in recent practices.

One of the players who looks like he is taking advantage of the situation is six-foot-three, 280-pound Isom.

"I believe I am doing pretty well in practice," Isom tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I feel like I have grown as a player during two-a-days. I am getting a lot better with my steps and with my patience acting like an offensive lineman."

Isom (67) is shown during a preseason practice.

A two-way standout in high school where he played with current teammate Mario Fannin at Lovejoy, Ga., High. Isom chose the Tigers over South Carolina, Florida and others. Head coach Tommy Tuberville had praise for Isom this week and offensive line coach Hugh Nall notes that the redshirt freshmen is improving.

"My step is probably what has improved the most," Isom says. "I have learned that is really important as an offensive lineman. That is what it really comes down to."

Isom says his comfort level as an offensive guard has risen this preseason. "I am starting to fall into the role a little bit better now," he states. "I am learning to be patient, like Coach Nall says. To do that you have to have a split personality because run blocking and pass blocking are two completely different things. I am starting to learn that now."

In addition to learning how to play guard in the SEC, Isom and his teammates have been dealing with an August heat wave that has put temperatures into triple digits.

"The heat is pretty tough, but you have your whole team out here with you," Isom points out. "Everybody else is grinding so you just have to grind with them. You can't really focus on the heat. Of course, you have to stay hydrated, but when you are practicing football you have to get after it and you can't really worry about it."

Isom and the Tigers will have their second major scrimmage of the preseason on Friday night and then practice again on Saturday and Sunday after taking the day off from workouts on Thursday as fall semester classes opened on the Auburn campus.

The Tigers have finished the two-a-days portion of the practice plans and are expected to soon turn their attention to preparing for the Sept. 1 home opener vs. Kansas State.

A big question for the Tigers is will the offense return to 2004 and 2005 production levels after slumping last season after QB Brandon Cox was injured.

Isom says he believes the Tigers have the potential to score plenty of points this season. "We have had our down practices mentally on offense, but when we come out here and get after it, we are pretty much unstoppable," Isom contends. "We have to work hard and it starts with the offensive line. As a long as everybody does what they are supposed to do, I think we will be competing for a big-time bowl game."


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