Mr. Versatility: Auburn's Mario Fannin

A report on a key performer for the 2009 Auburn football season is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--No player on the Auburn football team is likely to play as many roles this season as Mario Fannin.

The junior is expected to be a key player on the offensive and special teams units, however, just exactly where he lines up from week to week, or even quarter to quarter, is a bit of a mystery, even to Fannin himself.

In the first scrimmage Fannin worked at tailback and fullback. In the second major scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday, Fannin lined up at H-back plus tackled a new assignment.

Working as a punt returner, on his first opportunity to do that in a scrimmage situation with officials he used his speed and good moves to get past the defense for a touchdown.

"It was really my first live punt return," Fannin tells Inside the Auburn Tigers, smiling as he remembers the play. "The coaches told me what to do. I did what I was coached to do and it worked out great.

"I returned punts one time during my junior varsity year, which was my freshman year in high school, and I never did it again after that," he recalls. "I think the coaches are starting to trust me back there and I want to let them know they can trust me in that aspect of the game also. I am going to work hard to get better at it."

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn may also use Fannin as a quarterback running the wildcat formation. Fannin played QB at Lovejoy, Ga., High School and got some limited work in that role last year for the Tigers. Fannin could also line up at a wide receiver position at times this season.

Mario Fannin has shown the potential to make big plays in Gus Malzahn's offense.

The versatile junior is already a proven kickoff returner, a role he could resume again this fall. Wherever he plays, Fannin says that a goal is to help his Tigers bounce back from their disappointing 2008 season. He says what he is seeing on offense is encouraging with opening night less than three weeks away as Louisiana Tech comes to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 5th.

"I think the offense did great in the scrimmage," Fannin points out. "We came out there and executed well and made big plays, plus we didn't have any turnovers. I thought it turned out great."

Fannin and the Tigers took two days off from practice on Sunday and Monday as fall semester classes began. They will be back on the practice field for six consecutive days starting with a 7 p.m. practice on Tuesday.

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