Tiger Sophomore Looking to Find His Groove

Mario Fannin is making progress on the health front and could be taking a larger role on the Auburn offense.

Auburn, Ala.--After having shoulder surgery in the spring and wearing a no-contact jersey in the preseason, Mario Fannin is trying to get himself into playing shape as quickly as possible.

The Auburn redshirt sophomore, who plays multiple receiver spots for the Tigers and who can also line up at running back as well as return kicks, says he isn't totally back in a midseason groove, but is making progress.

"It is getting more comfortable each game, getting back out there and getting the game speed down," he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

In his team's 27-13 football victory over Southern Miss, Fannin caught three passes for 22 yards and ran the ball once for three more yards.

The Tigers caught 21 passes as a team with 11 players getting at least one reception last Saturday.

"We are definitely encouraged about the passing game," Fannin says. "We still made some mistakes so we need to get better each week. We did a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong. Coach Knox (receivers coach Greg Knox) is telling us and making sure we get it done in practice so when we get to the games we will do it right."

The Tigers jumped from 85 passing yards in game one vs. ULM to 248 in game two vs. Southern Mississippi. Fannin says the week two improvement is a good start, but only a start.

"We have not even touched the surface of how good we can be with this new offense," Fannin contends. "We are still trying to get the small things right and then the other things will happen as we go along."

Fannin also returned a kickoff 24 yards last week, renewing a role he handled last year when he averaged 21 yards on 19 returns.

"It is pretty fun to do getting back there and trying to make some guys miss and trying to give the team good field position," he says. "It is something Coach Gran (special teams and running back coach Eddie Gran) thinks I can do. I am going to try my best.

"Special teams is a major part of the game," Fannin adds. "Most likely, if you have good field position throughout the game, you will win the game so that is something Coach Gran is harping on and it is something we understand."

Fannin is shown during a summer workout.

Fannin rushed for 448 yards and five touchdowns last season and caught 18 passes for 176 yards and two more scores in 2007 as a backup tailback. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin says he likes what Fannin can do with the football in his hands so if he stays healthy look for the redshirt sophomore to become a featured part of the offense as the season progresses.

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