Seniors Say Farewell

15 Auburn seniors practiced for the last time on the Plains Thursday.

Auburn, Ala.--It was an emotional day for 14 seniors as they went through their final on-campus practice as an Auburn Tiger. Following a short walk-through practice that concentrated on special teams and execution of the game plan, Coach Tommy Tuberville said this senior class has been a good one and will be missed.

Senior tight end Lorenzo Diamond and true freshman quarterback Josh Sullivan during Thursday's practice.

Before he could begin his post-practice interview he was interrupted by a rumble on the field as senior offensive linemen Ben Nowland and Ryan Hockett attempted to take down position coach Hugh Nall to give him back a taste of what he's dished out to them in their career. It didn't work as planned though as Nall never touched the ground, dodging Nowland before throwing Hockett to the ground and running off the field with his hands held high. True freshman Marcus McNeill was overheard telling Hockett ‘no wonder they moved you from defensive tackle'.

Linebacker Mark Brown got the royal treatment after practice Thursday as Dontarrious Thomas, Karlos Dansby and the rest of the linebacker corps carried the senior off the field.

The hi-jinks were just a part of this group's legacy. During their four seasons at Auburn they won or shared three SEC Western Division titles and this year's Capital One Bowl appearance against Penn State will be their second New Year's Day appearance in three seasons. Tuberville said while not big this class did their part in restoring Auburn to among the elite in the SEC.

"It's not a very big group of seniors but we're proud of what they've done for us," Tuberville said. "They've gone through some tough times out here, especially on this field, and had to go through a lot of things these guys have put them through. It's a good senior class and hopefully they take away some fond memories. Hopefully we can send them off on the right foot."

Senior Damon Duval

In addition to Nowland and Hockett, the senior class includes quarterback Daniel Cobb, defensive tackle Dante Booker, linebacker Mark Brown, tight end Lorenzo Diamond, punter/kicker Damon Duval, cornerback Roderick Hood, snapper Michael Lindsey, fullback Michael Owens, safety Travaris Robinson, fullback Marshall Thornton, cornerback Rashaud Walker, cornerback Horace Willis and wide receiver Marcel Willis.

With defensive tackle Tommy Jackson held out of the practice with a minor pulled groin and tailback Brandon Jacobs missing because of a hand injury, the Tigers spent just over an hour on the practice field Thursday polishing what they have learned this week. Saying that the team is pretty healthy and both Jackson and Jacobs will be fine for Orlando, Tuberville said the week has been a good one of practice.

"We had a good practice today," Tuberville said. "We did kicking and mainly just walked through our game plan. We went them home today and we'll see them back at 5 p.m. in Orlando. It was a good week. We got everything we wanted to do and probably a little bit more. I didn't think the weather would be as nice as it was. We had pretty good weather. It was a little wet but we worked through it. Now they get three or four days off. Like I told them, they have to come to Orlando with the right frame of mind for two things, have fun and prepare to win the game."

A positive sign in Thursday's practice was the running of fullback Brandon Johnson and tailback Ronnie Brown. Both had their best days on the practice field since the Georgia game and are expected to be near full speed when the team meets again in Orlando Christmas night.

Auburn will begin practice in Orlando on Dec. 26 at Thunder Field, adjacent to the Citrus Bowl. All practices are closed to the public. Fans in Orlando that day can join the team and Coach Tuberville at Disney World that night when he's the Grand Marshall of their annual Christmas Parade. The team will have a free day on Dec. 27 and join Penn State in several team competitions at Universal City Walk Dec. 28. On the 29th they have another free day and will tour Sea World Dec. 30. Kickoff for the game on Wednesday Jan. 1 is scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern time.

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