Adam Herring, a 6-1, 217-pound redshirt sophomore from Springdale, Ark., is hoping to bolster the Auburn linebacker group.
Sidelined by a heel injured that required surgery after the 2008 season, Herring hoped to be ready to practice when the Tigers opened preseason drills. However, he reaggravated the problem and for most of August he had to repeat the frustration of spring practice when he could watch, but couldn't participate.
"It is really exciting," Herring says after being back on the field for three practices this week. "It is a big relief. It is so tough to sit out there and watch everybody have fun and get to do the things that you want to be doing on a day-to-day basis.
"You just have to keep your mind in the game and body in shape," says Herring, the son of Dallas Cowboys linebacker coach Reggie Herring, who is also a former Auburn assistant coach.
Reggie Herring is close to his son and has assisted him in many ways over the years. Helping the college linebacker cope with a serious injury has been no exception.
"He says just stay focused," the sophomore notes. "My dad has been a big part of helping me keep my mind right. I put it in the Lord's hands and He has helped me out."
Herring was projected to play middle linebacker this fall as a backup to the returning starter, junior Josh Bynes. However, with an injury to first string weakside linebacker Eltoro Freeman and with sophomore Spencer Pybus still trying to recover from a concussion, help at the position is being provided by walk-on Wade Christopher. Herring notes he is glad to be back competing for playing time again.
Adam Herring makes a tackle vs. Arkansas last fall.
The sophomore has been coming to the football complex early in the morning this preseason "going over stuff" to stay on top of his assignments despite having to watch the workouts while waiting for the approval to practice from Auburn's team physicians. He notes that he is "just trying to get better at play calls and learning the defense," but adds that trying to stay sharp has been challenging. "It is hard without getting reps," he points out.
However, making the task less daunting is that Herring has had a tremendous amount of exposure to the sport watching his dad coach at places like Auburn, North Carolina State and Arkansas before heading to the NFL.
"It is definitely helpful if you have grown up around the game of football your whole life," Herring points out. "You know how things operate."
Herring's life took him to the state of Arkansas as a high school junior, making the move to Fayetteville after his dad left North Carolina State University for a job on the University of Arkansas staff. As a senior, Herring transferred to powerhouse Shiloh Christian where he had an impressive season with 101 tackles while helping his team to the state championship as he played middle linebacker, weakside linebacker and rover. He did it well enough to earn first team All-State honors and he was also selected to the Orlando Sentinel's All-South squad.
After arriving at Auburn and redshirting in 2007, Herring saw limited playing time in 11 games and finished the 2008 campaign with two solo tackles and an assist as he tried to play with the foot problem. He was still rehabbing from surgery during spring training when his teammates were doing their best to try to impress Gene Chizik and his new coaching staff.
Chizik says there is a possibility that Herring will see action in Auburn's season opener on Sept. 5th. Herring agrees that could happen. "It is getting there now," he says about his heel. "It is getting to the point where I have confidence in it. Every day I get treatment for it. It gets a little stiff, but it ain't nothing that is going to hold me back."
Herring says that being required to sit out and watch earlier this year was "painful" and he hopes those days are done. "I will do whatever the coaches tell me to do," the linebacker adds. "I am ready."