Tommy Tuberville's Tigers have not put on the football pads since closing the regular season with a 17-7 victory at Alabama. The Tigers wrapped up fall semester final exams this week and have been doing weight training and conditioning workouts to stay in shape with a New Year's Day bowl date awaiting in Florida vs. the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Offensive tackle Mark Pera and his teammates will be back on the practice field this weekend.
Although they will not play in the Capital One Bowl game on Jan. 1, a pair of heavily recruited junior college players are scheduled to make their Auburn practice debuts this weekend--tailback Brandon Jacobs and defensive end Tony McClain from Coffeyville, Kan., Community College. Jacobs, a 6-4 1/2, 257-pounder, is originally from Assumption High in Napoleonville, La., and will enroll at Auburn as a junior. McClain, who is 6-3, 250 and played at B.F. Terry High Rosenberg, Tex., is scheduled to enroll at Auburn as a redshirt sophomore, who will have three years of eligibility at Auburn.
Also joining practice will be Kevin Sears, the 2002 signee from Russellville, Ala., High School, who was a late academic qualifier. He is now cleared to play and will be a freshman for the 2003 season. Sears is expected to get a look at linebacker and strong safety. Quarterback Brandon Cox from Hewitt-Trussville High is also scheduled to practice after dropping out of school last August due to personal problems. He was the state of Alabama's Mr. Football last fall.
Auburn is expecting three prospects to be on campus this weekend for official visits--6-4, 236 Stanley McClover from Dillard High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 6-3, 195 cornerback/wide receiver Antonio Cromartie from Lincoln High in Tallahassee, Fla., and 6-3, 281 defensive lineman Eric Holcombe from Northeast Mississippi Community College. Holcombe played high school football at Davidson in Mobile. McClover was originally scheduled to be in Auburn to see the Tigers play Georgia in November, but that trip was postponed due to mechanical trouble with his flight. Like Holcombe and Cromartie, he is one of the nation's most highly regarded recruits.
Quarterback Brandon Cox is shown working out at Auburn this past summer. The freshman is scheduled to be back at practice this week.
The Tigers are expected to practice in Auburn through Dec. 20th and then take a break for the Christmas holidays. The team is scheduled to resume practices on the 26th in Orlando. AU officials have announced that more than 11,000 tickets to the Capital One Bowl have been sold through the AU Ticket Office, which will be open until Dec. 20th. Coach Tommy Tuberville is urging Tiger fans going to the game to buy the tickets through AU because that will make the team more attractive to bowl committees in future seasons. Orders are still coming in and Auburn is expected to take more than 20,000 fans to the Jan. 1 bowl game.
Capital One Bowl officials said that Auburn was the overwhelming pick of their committee to play the Nittany Lions, who are 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten. The Capital One Bowl gets its pick of any SEC except the conference champion, which goes into the Bowl Championship Series. Auburn is 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the SEC. Penn State will be making its 37th bowl appearance and has an all-time mark of 23-11-2 in those games. One was a victory over Auburn, 43-14, in the rain and muck at the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 1, 1995.
Penn State is the fourth Top 10 team on Auburn's schedule this season. Auburn defeated both LSU and Alabama and lost to Georgia. Southern Cal, Auburn's opening night opponent, moved into the Top 10 later in the season after playing the Tigers. The Trojans will be Auburn's opening day opponent for the 2003 season.