Tiger Quarterback Looking For Bigger, Better Year

Auburn junior quarterback Jason Campbell talks about the 2003 Auburn football team with spring drills getting cranked up at AU.

Editor's Note: This is the 15th article in a series previewing Auburn University spring football.

Auburn, Ala.--After spending three seasons battling to win the starting job, Jason Campbell's main competition will be with himself this spring.

The redshirt junior from Taylorsville, Miss., is the man at quarterback as Auburn begins spring practice on Tuesday. For the six-foot-five, 226-pounder the focus of the next month will be on adapting to a new position coach, honing his skills in an offensive system the Tigers installed last year and continuing to step up in a leadership role.

Jason Campbell

"I have set a lot of goals for myself coming into spring practice," Campbell tells Inside the Auburn Tigers." I worked really hard in winter workouts trying to get stronger. I gained weight. I am up to 226. I was playing last year around 215. I have put on more weight and it is more muscle than body fat.

"I have goals to lead this team in the best way I possibly can," the redshirt junior adds. "I am going to try to go out and work hard every day and try to learn as much as possible. I want to go out there and execute and do my job to the fullest."

Campbell and the Tigers are coming off a 9-4 season in which he played in every game and started six. For the season he completed 94-149 passes for 1,215 yards and 11 touchdowns. He threw five interceptions and had an impressive completion percentage of 63.1 percent. His two-year completion percentage is 62.9, the best in school history with two more seasons left to play for the Tigers.

Jason Campbell

Campbell has been working on getting bigger and stronger so he can put up more impressive numbers in 2003. He says that he has been working hard the past two months under the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall and his staff to be ready for spring drills.

"It has been a real good winter workout for the team," the junior says. "Coach Yox does a real good job getting guys ready--especially in the weight room and with running. He gets everybody in good shape. When we do our team drills, everyone looks ready. A lot of guys have improved, especially our freshman receivers. They have gotten a lot stronger over winter workouts. They have matured a lot and gotten a lot tougher. That is a great sign to see."

Campbell's return, along with seven other offensive starters coming back in 2003, have expectations high for the coming season with Auburn fans. The quarterback says the team itself shares that feeling. "We are very excited, but we have work to do," he says. "We know we have to come out and compete every game and try to get better each practice and each game.

"We are basically going to run the same offense although we will have a couple of things we will do differently," he says. "Those are things we will work on in the spring as well as working on our overall execution. This is a great opportunity to come back this year and be working in the same system this year. We really don't have to learn a lot."

Campbell is shown during a December practice in Auburn before the Tigers made their bowl trip to Orlando.

Campbell says that his initial impressions of his new position coach, Steve Ensminger, are favorable. He was hired in January to replace Bobby Petrino, who took over the head coaching job at Louisville after Auburn's bowl victory over Penn State.

"Coach Ensminger has a great respect for us and what we are doing," Campbell says. "He does his best to teach us things that we need to work on and he has added some different things to the offense such as doing different things against certain coverages. He brings a lot of experience to us. He has been in the game 18 or 19 years. I have great confidence in him. Hopefully, we will continue to work together and build and grow a great relationship."

Ensminger and the other coaches have 15 practice days to work with their players this spring in drills that will run through April 5th when the Tigers play their annual A-Day Game at 1 p.m. that day at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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