Auburn, Ala.--Former Leroy High and current Auburn Tiger quarterback Clint Moseley made his last visit home to Leroy this past weekend before the start of fall camp that began Wednesday on the Plains.
Moseley enters his first fall camp with hopes of playing time, but will have to beat out both starters from last season (Kodi Burns and Chris Todd) along with fellow freshman Tyrik Rollison and redshirt junior Neil Caudle. Adjusting to the speed of the game seems to be the biggest obstacle for the 2008 Alabama Mr. Football winner.
"It was a tough adjustment at first," Clint Moseley says of his summer workouts with the Tigers. "Coming from little Leroy and going to a big SEC school like Auburn was tough. It took about two weeks to really get adjusted. But now that we have been out there all summer it is starting to get easier. I'm starting to adapt to the classes, everything is fine now."
Moseley has only been fully cleared for summer drills for a few weeks as he fractured a finger on his throwing hand while tubing right before heading to the Plains.
"I have been cleared for two weeks," he says. "I don't have any restrictions. I was a little rusty at first, but I am getting into it more and more everyday."
While at Leroy, Moseley won three state championships in football and about every award imaginable. But none of that prepared him for the magnitude of the life of an SEC football player. Especially in a football crazy state like Alabama.
"Being a fan of college football, at first adapting to it was hard," he says. "I mean just realizing I was on the team was incredible. The first practice out there I was just in awe at how big and fast all the players were. It took a few weeks for me to start getting comfortable around all the guys and realize I am a part of the team."
Auburn returns last year's starters Burns, a junior, and Todd, a senior. However, both quarterbacks struggled during a 5-7 campaign for the Tigers and neither claimed the top spot during the spring although Todd was out with an injury. Caudle, a redshirt junior, is also battling for playing time while redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter, who suffered a knee injury in the spring, is trying to return to full speed.
"We really don't know a whole bunch right now because the coaches haven't been out there," Moseley says. "We will find out a lot when training camp starts this week. Everybody is looking about the same. It is wide open."
One guy who has caught the attention of Moseley is his roommate and fellow freshman, Rollison. "We didn't talk that much at first, but now he is one of my better friends," he says. "He is a great guy and a great quarterback. We are looking forward to going in there and competing.
"We have talked to Coach (offensive coordinator Gus) Malzahn a pretty good bit. We can tell by the way he is pushing me and Tyrik that he thinks we have a shot of coming in there and competing for playing time."
While the speed adjustment from high school to college is big for any player, it is extremely evident to Moseley, who comes from Class 2A Leroy.
"The quickness of the players is just crazy," he points out. "I mean, we had athletes at Leroy. But the quickness and decision making of the guys here is incredible. Everyone, the linemen, just everyone on the field is so fast. While we may have had one or two in high school, the whole team is like that at Auburn. It is just athletes out here that I have never been around before."
Moseley looks for a receiver while playing for the Leroy Bears. He was also a star baseball player in high school.
During the summer, players are allowed to work out and go through drills as long as no on the field coaches are present. Moseley hasn't gotten a ton of reps, but says he feels he has fared well when given a chance. "Me and Tyrik really didn't get too many reps during the 7-on-7 and team installs. But when we did, we did pretty good. They didn't expect us to come in there and dominate, but we did pretty good."
Several upperclassman have passed the eye-test this summer for Moseley. "Antonio Coleman (defensive end) is fun to watch," the quarterback says. "He is a projected first-round pick in the NFL Draft next year. He is the leader of the team. Josh Bynes (linebacker) is a freak of an athlete and a big-time leader on defense. He knows the plays before they come and he is so fast. He is going to have a great year."
While quarterback is one area of concern for Auburn this fall, another key area is wide receiver. The Tigers got very little production out of that group last season, but a few new faces this fall have been reason for optimism.
"We don't have much depth at wide receiver," Moseley says. "We have four new guys coming in. DeAngelo (Benton) was a five-star in high school and is obviously pretty good. I think he can come in and make an impact if he keeps working. Emory Blake has a good shot at getting playing time. He has a lot of potential. Travante (Stallworth) and (Anthony) Gulley, you wouldn't expect too much out of them after looking at them, but they have really impressed everyone. They have a good chance of playing."
Auburn finished with the 16th best signee class in the nation last year according to Scout.com. Moseley talked about a few of his freshman teammates that have stood out so far in summer workouts.
"Like I said earlier, Tyrik (Rollison) has probably been one of the most impressive freshman," he says. "He has impressed a lot of people. (Linebacker) Harris Gaston is a good athlete. He has been picking up on everything. Defensive end Nosa Equae has really been tearing it up. He is in the backfield pretty much every time. And Dee Ford is 6-4 220 and runs a 4.4 with a 40-inch vertical. He is just quick and causing a lot of problems for the offensive line. He is going to be really good."
Moseley has added 10 pounds to his 6-5 frame while going through summer workouts. He is not where the coaches want him to end up, but seems to be well on his way.
"When we first got there I had a broken finger and could only work my left arm. All I was doing was running at first so I lost about five pounds. I dropped to 196. Then when I was cleared they started putting me through it pretty good. I am drinking protein shakes and they have us on a pretty strict diet. I have gained 10 or 11 pounds. I am at 208."
With camp under way, Moseley enters optimistically but also weary of what to expect. "I have heard bad things about camp. Your life is pretty much over. You're either in a meeting or on the field all day. I have to adapt to that."
Auburn entered fall camp last year as the pre-season pick to win the SEC West. A year later, Tommy Tuberville and his staff are gone and Gene Chizik enters his first season as AU's head coach with low expectations. But Moseley doesn't see it.
"Well, of course, if you ask me I think we look great," he says. "I have never been around a team this talented. I just think we are really good. But talking to some of the older guys they said they just lost their confidence last year.
"There are a lot of leaders on this team and they seem to think we have a lot of good things ahead of us. They like to say they have their ‘swagger' back. Whatever they want to call it, I am feeling good about the team," Moseley says.
Chizik and his assistants have brought a new attitude to the Plains since they were hired a few months back. Moseley says there are a few big reasons for that. "They don't put up with anything. No horseplay or messing around in class." He notes that the coaches have dismissed mutliple players from the team this summer for misbehavior. "Three of them were just for horse-playing in class," he says. "They are that serious. They know exactly what they want to do and they have done it so far.
"I am probably the closest with Coach Malzahn because that is who I am with most of the time," he adds. "Coach Chizik has really stood out, too. He has been consistent with what he told us while he recruited me. Nothing has changed. He is the same person. I didn't expect that. He doesn't put up with anything. He is serious about turning this program around."
While the overall adjustment to things on the field was expected, Moseley also has to get accustomed to life as a college student. "I only took three classes this summer," he says. "One was the Auburn experience. That wasn't too hard. I have an A in there. I also took critical reading. That is basically just vocabulary so I had a high A in there. Then we have theater. That is something you either have a love for or you don't. And a majority of us don't. It is hard to pay attention. It is mostly discussion. I fell behind pretty bad early and had a D, but the past two or three weeks I have pulled it up. So I am doing pretty good."
With Moseley now gone, along with most of the other big play-makers at Leroy, the Bears enter the season with a lot of teams thinking they have a shot at defeating the three-time defending 2A state champions even though the Bears enter the fall as the No. 1 ranked team.
"I have been around those guys my whole life," Moseley says. "I guarantee you they will not be terrible because of Coach (Danny) Powell. As long as he is there, he will come up with something. They lost a lot of lineman and that is one of their big worries. I promise you he will come up with something and they still have a ton of athletes. That is one thing they do not lack. They have a long way to go but they will be fine. The team will come together and they will be pretty good."