Frank Tolbert, a 6-4, 210 senior guard from River Falls, Ala., was cleared to play for the Tigers earlier this month after having criminal mischief charges dropped after he paid for the damage done when retrieving his impounded vehicle that had been towed and locked behind a chain-link fence by one of several local businesses that specialize in towing the vehicles of Auburn University students. A DUI charge that came from the same incident was also dropped.
"It was real embarrassing for the simple fact that I put myself into that situation," Tolbert says. "It made me look bad and I didn't want to do that to the coaching staff and the Auburn family.
"I really regret that I did it," he says. "It's in the past and I can't go back and change it now. It was a learning experience and I am just going to try to learn from it and move forward.
"It is very good that my coach stood by me," Tolbert adds. "When I told him he couldn't believe it because he knows that is not me and my teammates know that isn't me."
Tolbert, who broke into the starting lineup for 11 games as a true freshman, averaged 6.9 points and 3.0 rebounds that year and his numbers have improved each season. As a sophomore he started 19 games and averaged 9.1 points and 3.5 rebounds. Last season those numbers climbed to 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest.
Lebo says that Tolbert is being punished by the coaching staff, but noes that he expects the senior to be in good standing to play for the Tigers, who return all five starters from last year's squad that finished with a 17-15 record last year.
Tolbert, who is scheduled to graduate in 3 1/2 years, is expected to be awarded his degree in December. He says that Lebo has been pushing the team hard since fulls squad workouts began two weeks ago.
"The practices have been tough, very tough," he says. "They are real competitive. We have a lot of guys who are coming in sore and banged up. That is the way our practices have been since last year. We go hard and if we get a little bruised up we go to the trainer, get it all iced and come back the next day ready to go."
The Tigers will play an exhibition game on Nov. 1st at 7 p.m. vs. Bluefield College and will play their first regular season home game Nov. 13th vs. Kennesaw State.