Special Visitor Attends AU Football Workout

Auburn, Ala.--The football Tigers wrapped up their on-the-field preparations with a longer than normal Thursday practice that included a visit from a surprised special visitor from western Alabama.

Tommy Tuberville said he liked what he saw from the team on a beautiful October late afternoon and evening on dry and fast football fields after one day of practicing in the rain and another of practicing on soaked grass.

Tuberville said he liked seeing junior linebacker Dontarrious Thomas moving better after struggling in recent games with a knee problem that has affected his mobility. "D.T. practiced today at full speed," Tuberville said. "He looks good. Two more days of rest will probably give him the opportunity to play quite a bit."

Another starter, defensive tackle Spencer Johnson, was on the practice field for some limited work and will make the road trip to Gainesville on Friday. Redshirt freshman Wayne Dickens is expected to start in Johnson's place for a second straight week.

Before the offense and defense rehearsed the game plan, Tuberville and Tiger players spent time with six-year-old Auburn fan Heath Wyatt of Centreville, Ala., who was a VIP at practice on Thursday as the guest of the head coach and team chaplain Chette Williams. A cystic fibrosis patient, he was able return home Thursday night with the autograph of his favorite player, sophomore Carnell Williams. He also got to meet and talk to his other favorites--kicker Damon Duval, defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil and quarterback Daniel Cobb, who signed autographs on his t-shirt.

The trip to the Auburn practice was set up by his aunts--Misty Davis, Rosanna Rinehart and Deanna Davis of Centreville in Bibb County along with Williams and Tuberville. His aunts told the six-year-old that they were going to Auburn for treatment and that there was a chance they could stop by the football complex to get a poster of the 2002 team. However, there was a much bigger surprise waiting for him on a beautiful October evening.

Heath and Tommy Tuberville pose for a photo on Thursday at practice.

Wyatt had his photo taken with the Cadillac and the entire running back corps and the soon to be seven-year-old, who may have to go back to the hospital for more treatment next week, has been promised a game ball from Gainesville if his hero Williams scores against the Florida Gators. The Cadillac has 10 touchdowns this season with a school record of TDs in six straight contests.

"When you watch our game on Saturday night and Carnell scores, watch that football because we are going to get it for you," Tuberville told the young Tiger fan.

The wide-eyed six-year-old said, "Cadillac is my favorite player." When asked why, he correctly answered, "Because he is good." Heath predicted that an equipment modification is going to help the Tiger sophomore in Gainesville. "He has got to change tires and get new tires so he can run real fast and get a touchdown."

Roshard Gilyard signs Heath's shirt during a break from defensive back drills on Thursday.

His three aunts said they will long be grateful to the coach, team chaplain and players for making the day special for the second grader, who will turn seven on Tuesday and is a huge AU football fan. "He reads on a fourth grade level and he will tell you everything you want to know," Deanna Davis said. "He is into wrestling, too. He got grounded from watching that though because he started using the moves on his sister."

Heath and other Auburn fans not making the trip to Gainesville for Saturday's game can watch the Tigers take on the Gators at 5:45 p.m. Central time in a contest being televised ESPN.

The Tigers worked nearly two hours on Thursday with emphasis on the kicking game and an hour rehearsing the offensive and defensive game plans. Sophomore wide receiver Silas Daniels, who is recovering from a groin pull, was rehabbing on Thursday and is questionable for Saturday's game.

"We really stressed the kicking game all week," said Tuberville, who added, "The attitude is great. We have worked hard all week. It obviously took a day or two to get focused after last week's game, but they are rarin' to go.

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