A trio of newcomers are among the players getting serious looks for reserve duty at the guard spots. Freshmen John Sullen and Andre Harris began practice with Grimes in August as did junior college transfer Jorrell Bostrom, a walk-on who is originally from Idaho.
John Sullen is shown in practice with Grimes.
Sullen is a freshman from Auburn High School and Harris played last fall at Lovejoy, Ga., High. Both were tackles in high school, but are concentrating on learning to play guard for Grimes.
"Both of those guys are making progress," Auburn's line coach says. "John, in particular, is a kid who learns really fast. He is very intelligent, very conscientious. He wants to do things the right way. He wants to please you and he is very eager. I have been very pleased with his progress.
"Now the point for him is to recognize we are in game week so all of those freshman mistakes, all of that stuff, is done," Grimes adds. "If you are going to be a guy who is in the mix now, you have to know what you are doing all of the time. You have to play hard all of the time. He is getting closer to that, but he is not there yet."
Grimes notes that he likes to train his guards to play on both the left and right side and that is the case with walk-on Bostrom, a 6-3, 362 junior who arrived as an invited walk-on. Bostrom is a guy who Grimes knew about as a junior college player in California.
Bostrom played high school football in Nampa, Idaho and then went on a two-year church mission before attending Bakersfield Junior College.
"He is doing good," Grimes says. "He has really helped us at several different places. He is kind of like John. He has a ways to go."
Grimes won't say if any of those newcomers will see action on opening night as the Tigers take on Louisiana Tech to open the Gene Chizik Era, but it won't be a major surprise if one or more of the new offensive linemen get into the contest.
"My hope is that we step out there and we make a statement with how we play the game in terms of our style of play more than anything else," Grimes says of the offensive line. "Certainly, we want to be technically proficient, we don't want to have penalties, we don't want to give up sacks and all of that sort of thing, but more than anything I am looking for five guys that will just dominate the game up front and play it the way I think it ought to be played.
"If that happens, it will show up," Grimes adds. "If we play hard, and play physical and do what we need to do, then that gives a chance to do what we need to do on offense. Nothing can happen if we don't do that."
The Tigers lost two starters from last year's team in center Jason Bosley and guard Tyronne Green, but return four players with starting experience. McCain at right tackle is the only first stringer who has not started a game for the Tigers as an offensive lineman going into Saturday's 6 p.m. home opener vs. Louisiana Tech.