Tuberville Excited About Football Recruiting

Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville discusses football recruiting and his team's preparation for the Capital One Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville's pre-Christmas schedule is keeping him busy morning, noon and night as his Tigers draw near the end of on-campus preparations for their New Year's Day Bowl game vs. Penn State.

On Wednesday, the head football coach said that he was pleased with his team's low-key, full pads workout that featured 45 minutes of work on the kicking game and plenty of individual work with position coaches tuning up techniques with their players.

After the workout, Tuberville hit the recruiting trail and will continue to do that through Saturday when recruiting enters a no-contact dead period.

Tuberville also said on Wednesday that he is excited about how recruiting is going for the Tigers. Auburn picked up its 14th public verbal commitment from Central of Phenix City quarterback Kelcy McKissic-Luke, who picked the Tigers over Alabama, Georgia Tech and South Carolina at a press conference at his school on Wednesday afternoon.

"We are over halfway finished, the best we have done," Tuberville said when asked to assess how the big picture is looking for Auburn football recruiting. "I have probably seen more of the top players this month than I have in the past. I did that intentionally. I get one visit."

Tuberville says the month of January, when the Tigers will be host to the bulk of their official recruiting visits, will determine just how good the 2003 signee class will be. However, the head coach is not shy about letting it be known that things are going well. "So far it couldn't be any better," he says. "We are getting great response from all the players in-state and some of them out of state. It is yet to be seen how we will do totally."

Quarterback Jason Campbell (17) prepares to run a play at Wednesday's workout.

The Tigers will practice one more time on Thursday morning before having a chance to spend time with their families prior to reassembling in Orlando for bowl workouts. The team will practice on mornings at Thunder Field in Orlando next to the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium starting on the 26th. The players are due to report by 4 p.m. EST on Christmas Day and will spend Christmas night at a team dinner at Epcot Center.

Commenting on Wednesday's workout, Tuberville said, "We had a good practice. We shortened it a little bit today. We worked about 45 minutes on the kicking game and about 50 minutes on the game plan. We have our game plan in. We will do about the same thing tomorrow. We will have an organizational team meeting with everybody (Thursday) to go over the bowl trip."

The players will be able to pick up travel expense mileage checks to pay their expenses to travel to Orlando from their homes and will be receiving gifts from the Capital One Bowl and AU before hitting the road.

Tuberville said he wants the players to be serious about the New Year's Day Capital One Bowl vs. Penn State, but says he wants them to enjoy the trip as a reward for their hard work this season. "Last time we made all the attractions mandatory and this time we will make three of the visits mandatory," Tuberville said. "They are going to have a lot more free time in the afternoon. We push them pretty hard in the practices. Some of them want to play golf, some of them want to hang out around the swimming pool. We want to make it a more relaxing trip. It's important that we have good practices, but we'll have some free time, too."

Florida native Tre Smith, one of the stars of Auburn's season-ending 17-7 victory over Alabama, says that he will probably be one of the tour guides for the trip. The freshman tailback estimate that he has made more than a dozen trips to the Orlando area theme parks like Disney World because he grew up in nearby Venice.

"Some guys who might not play may take it like a pleasure cruise and everything, but all of the guys who play we are trying to handle it at least half and half or more on the business side," Smith says. "We want to win the game. That is our main goal."

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