Doolittle Pushing To Be Ready For Opener

Auburn senior defensive tackle Tez Doolittle talks about his preseason.

Auburn, Ala.--For Tez Doolittle it has been a year of ups and downs unlike anything most college football players ever have to experience. Almost one year ago to the day Doolittle tore his Achilles during preseason practice and was thought to be done with football. Now with the 2008 season only weeks away, the senior is back and he said close to achieving his goal of playing again for the Tigers.

"I have made a lot of progress," Doolittle said. "I was told I would probably be back around the third game, but now it looks like I'm going to be ready for the first game. That's a lot of progress.

"I have been getting up at 5 or 5:30 every morning," Doolittle said. "I rehab three times a day. I have been the first one here and the last one to leave every day just trying to get myself together."

Auburn's most experienced defensive lineman and the only senior in the group, Doolittle has been through the wars of SEC play although he's never played an extensive role on defense. While that won't change this season with his role expected to be in reserve, position coach Don Dunn said what he brings to the team both on and off the field makes it a blessing to have him back.

"It's real good," Dunn said. "Leadership. He's just a good kid and a good person to have around. He's already graduated. That's a great example for our young kids. He's playing pretty good and he's quick. He looks a lot quicker to me. He's not as heavy as he was last fall and last fall he was pushing Josh (Thompson) for the starting position when he got hurt. He's still a little sore. We still have to watch his reps. He can't go 20 snaps in a row. We've got to be smart with him. Heck yea, I'm glad he's back."

The old man of the group, Doolittle has also taken the time to not only work with up and comers such as Zach Clayton, Mike Blanc and Jermarcus Ricks, he said he's watched some of the young guys carefully and so far he is impressed by what they can do on the field.

"They've got a lot of fight in them," Doolittle said. "Jomarcus Savage looks real good at defensive end. Derrick Lykes looks good at the defensive tackle spot. A lot of young guys in the secondary look good. A lot of them are going to get a lot of playing time this year."

Going from his career being over to now waiting patiently for another chance to play for Auburn, Doolittle said the toughest thing now is to wait for Aug. 30 to roll around when he'll step out on the grass at Jordan-Hare Stadium to play for the Tigers.

"We have been in the locker room talking about how we've only got this many days left," Doolittle said. "I was just feeling like game day was today. I'm real excited about it."

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