That all changed this season. With injuries to starters Reggie Torbor and Jay Ratliff, Eddins got his chance at extended playing time and took full advantage of it. Now preparing to play and contribute against Penn State, the Montgomery native said that the team has enjoyed its time in Orlando taking in the sights after practicing in the morning.
"I think everybody really enjoyed the week off and kind of came back maybe a little rusty," Eddins said. "I think the coaches saw that and we were pretty physical the first couple of days. I think practice has gone good. We've really brushed up the game plan. I think today, being just a touch-up day, we really did a good job of where to go and what to do and being quick to it. I think the coaches have really put together a good game plan. The practice schedule has been real good. Hopefully, it will work out.
"We went to Epcot, it was fun but we got there late at night and it was real crowded," he said of the activities this week since the team has been in town. "We went to the Magic Kingdom as well and yesterday we went to Universal. They had a lot of good rides. Today we're going to Sea World. It's a lot of fun down here and we really appreciate them having us."
After a 17-7 win over Alabama in their final game, the Tigers have been receiving praise and the talk of next season has already begun in the media and among fans. With a solid base of talent returning to make a run at the SEC Championship, Eddins said the New Year's Day matchup against the Nittany Lions is an important game for this team heading into 2003.
"A lot of people say you want to send your seniors out on a good note, but you also want to have a good note to reflect on for next year," Eddins said. "We would have won two big games at the end of the season and we just want to keep it going. Penn State is a good team and we're going to have to play real good to beat them, but if you look at Miami's win streak it started by beating a good Florida team in the Sugar Bowl. It has to get started somewhere and hopefully we'll get it started here."
Practicing in shoulder pads and sweats for just less than two hours on Sunday, the Tigers continued preparations for the Capital One Bowl with a workout on Thunder Field adjacent to the Citrus Bowl. Spending most of the time on the kicking game, in particular punt returns and coverages, Coach Tommy Tuberville said he was pleased with what he saw out of the team.
"It went excellent," Tuberville said. "We had beautiful weather. There was a lot of jump in our guys today. This was the first time that we haven't had full pads on. We have all of our game plan in. We worked mainly on the kicking game and just basically on the game plan. We didn't do any individual drills but it was a good day. We've got everybody healthy."
The only player that remains a question mark for the Tigers is defensive tackle Tommy Jackson. Still bothered by a strained groin, the true freshman is practicing but might not be full speed for the 1 p.m. EST kickoff. A positive is the play of Spencer Johnson, who appears to be healthier than he's been the entire season.
Tiger Ticket Extra: The team visited Sea World after Sunday's practice with several players scheduled to get in the pool with Shamu the killer whale and other animals. After being free to see the town since their arrival on Christmas night, a curfew begins Sunday night and will last until game time.