Freeman Living Out His Dream

Auburn linebacker Eltoro Freeman talks about his first spring practice as a Tiger.

Auburn, Ala.--For Auburn sophomore linebacker Eltoro Freeman, spring practice is the beginning of a new chapter in his life. After failing to qualify out of Benjamin Russell High in 2007, Freeman went to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and learned how to take care of business both in the classroom and on the field.

Finally at Auburn after earning honors in the classroom for his second year, a year when he redshirted to keep three seasons of eligibility for the Tigers, the 6-0, 222 Freeman said he's excited about finally living out his dream of playing football on the Plains.

"It's real fun to be at Auburn University," Freeman said. "We've got great coaches. All of them are energized and get us pumped up for practice so we go out there and run hard and play hard. Hopefully we'll have a better season than we did last year."

Currrently working on the strong side behind junior Craig Stevens, Freeman is one of just six scholarship linebackers for the Tigers in the spring. He said that has meant extra reps and work for him the first four days of practice. That's important because he's trying to learn a new defensive system and a new position all at once.

"The speed of the game hasn't really changed for me right now," Freeman said. "It's just the plays and the terminology. That's only been the big thing for me right now. The speed hasn't changed. I have adjusted to that real well. It's just learning a new system and the plays. Once I get that down I'll be good.

"I have always been a weak side outside linebacker," Freeman added. "Going to the strong side was very different for me. As I keep practicing everything I get better at it."

Freeman met with reporters after practice on Sunday evening.

Helping Freeman and the linebackers adjust to the new scheme is position coach and coordinator Ted Roof. A standout player as a linebacker at Georgia Tech before his coaching days, Freeman said he still brings that excitement to the field every day as a coach.

"Coach Roof is excellent," Freeman said. "You can tell he was a linebacker. He's physical every practice. He's a great coach. He's always trying to put the linebackers in a position to make plays. He's a great coach."

The first two days were difficult days for the entire Auburn team as they had to get used to the demands of a new coaching staff and also learning new systems and terminology on both sides of the ball. Freeman said in addition to that, he's working hard to become a better linebacker and not just the instinctive player that wreaked havoc in high school and the junior college ranks.

"Right now I'm taking my work very seriously," Freeman said. "Now I'm learning how to understand the game instead of just running to the football. I have to know my assignment, which gap I've got, what man I've got, instead of just out there playing like I did in high school. That's the biggest thing that's changed."

Freeman has been helped the last two practice days as the Tigers have put on the pads and gotten down to some physical football. That is the part of the game that Freeman has always excelled at. Now becoming more familiar with the defense with each passing day, he said he's beginning to turn it loose on the field.

"You can't really do as much as you want to when you're not in pads," Freeman said. "You've just go to track where we throw our arms up when we get close to the ball. Now that we're in pads you get to hit and be more physical. That's my game totally."

Expected to be a big part of things for Auburn's defense right away, Freeman is only two years behind his schedule of playing for the Tigers. While things could have worked out differently with a coaching change and schools from all over the country trying to sign him late last year, Freeman said there was never a doubt in his mind that he would be suiting up in the orange and blue and he's excited that now he's living out his dream.

"When I signed with Auburn University coming out in Feb. of 07, I didn't sign with any coaches," Freeman said. "Coach (Tommy) Tuberville wasn't on my scholarship. Coach (James) Willis wasn't on my scholarship. Auburn University was on my scholarship.

"When I didn't qualify Auburn didn't drop me. They still kept in contact and kept encouraging me. When Auburn had a down season I sat back and looked at that. They were with me when I was down so I decided to stick with them when they were down. This is a great place. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

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