Tiger QB Encouraged By Start Of Spring Drills

One of Auburn's key football players discusses spring drills on the Plains.

Auburn, Ala.--With one-third of spring football practice in the books, Jason Campbell is off to a good start for his redshirt junior season.

The six-foot-five, 226-pounder has gained 11 pounds of muscle in the offseason to go with the confidence gained by a strong finish to the 2002 season after he took over the offense from Daniel Cobb for good during Auburn's road trip to Florida. Despite a change in position coaches for a second straight year going from Noel Mazzone-to-Bobby Petrino-to-Steve Ensminger, Campbell says he feels very comfortable running the show because new offensive coordinator Hugh Nall is running the same system Petrino put in last year.

Jason Campbell

Campbell, who has 14 career starts as a collegian, says that he believes he is making progress this spring. "I feel pretty good because this is my second year in this offense," he notes. "This is my first time I have had an opportunity to be in the same offense two years in a row. You know your checks and anytime they get in a certain defense it just comes to you like that. You know what to get to in both the running game and the passing game."

Campbell says that points of emphasis for him the rest of the spring are to concentrate on having better footwork and to be relaxed when he drops into the pocket. Campbell says that shouldn't be a problem in 2003. "I feel more comfortable," he says. "You kind of know where everybody is on the field."

The quarterback and his Tigers are coming off a 9-4 season in which he played in every game and started six times. For the season he hit 94-149 passes for 1,215 yards and 11 TDs. He threw five interceptions and finished the season with a completion percentage of 63.1 percent. His two-year completion percentage is 62.9, which is the best in school history.

In his first scrimmage as offensive coordinator, Nall says he was more pleased with the passing and pass catching than anything else he saw on Saturday as the Tigers had their first major scrimmage of the spring. Nall says he liked the work the quarterbacks did as a group, and Campbell in particular. He adds that one wide receiver also caught his eye. "Courtney Taylor is really special," he says of the redshirt freshman from Carrollton, Ala., who is making a successful adjustment from high school quarterback to college split end. Taylor caught four passes for 128 yards. "He has big-play potential and that is what we are looking for with our wideouts," he says.

Taylor will probably get a chance to see some action with the first team this week and catch balls from Campbell, who is working on the long passing game and continuing to focus on his mechanics before the Tigers scrimmage again this Saturday at 10 a.m. The Tigers are scheduled to practice Wednesday and Friday this week and will continue to work out until the April 5th A-Day Game after taking off spring break week (March 23-30).

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