After playing middle linebacker, defensive end and fullback in his first two seasons at Auburn, the Nashville, Tenn., native made the move back to offense this spring. Coach Tommy Tuberville said he's been pleased with what he's seen out of the physical football player in the first six practices this March.
"Jake, mentally, is so much farther along," Tuberville said. "He's played fullback before and because of that he's a lot more aggressive. He made some good blocks out there today (Wednesday). Sometimes you rush guys along and think just because they've been here a year they should automatically know something. It takes a good two or three years to learn what to do or how to do it and put everything together.
"He's a real physical type guy and still makes a few mental mistakes. If he can get a little more mentally sharp as reps go, these scrimmages are going to help him. Right now he's doing a good job and is really helping Brandon (Johnson) out. It has been a good move for us."
Jake Slaughter in Wednesday's practice.
In limbo for the majority of two years because of moves back and forth from offense to defense, Slaughter had a hard time fitting in and ended up playing on the scout team in practice while trying to learn the ins-and-outs of several positions. Now solidified on offense, he's a happy camper in his old/new role.
"I moved to fullback for spring," Slaughter said. "I have been frustrated to not stay in one position and be able to learn it real good. Now I'm a fullback and that's going good. I'm really picking it up fast and remembering what I learned before. It's going good.
"It's a really good fit for me at fullback. It's the closest position to playing defense that you can have because you get to attack people and be aggressive. That's what I like and that's why I like the position."
With depth and talent up and down the offensive roster, the main concern coming into spring practice was a change in the coaching staff with former coordinator Bobby Petrino moving on to be the Head Coach at Louisville. Replaced by Coach Steve Ensminger as quarterback coach and Coach Hugh Nall as coordinator, Petrino's offense has been adapted to fit both coaches and their styles with things remaining essentially the same. Slaughter said that was a big key for this team coming off a successful finish to the 2002 season.
"Things seem the same," Slaughter said. "We're running the same offense. Everything is going real well. We're picking it up and learning it and doing better than we did last year. Things are progressing well this spring. I think we're doing a lot better than last spring. Last spring the defense came out and dominated the whole spring--scrimmages and practices. This time we know the offense better and we're playing a lot better. We're gaining a lot of yardage against the defense and things are going good."
Slaughter lowers his head as he prepares to take on Travis Williams in the hole.
Maybe the biggest hurdle this Tiger offense will have to cross will be gaining confidence to perform against its own defense in practice. Expected to be one of the top units in the country next fall, Slaughter said playing against the likes of Karlos Dansby, Dontarrious Thomas, Demarco McNeil and Spencer Johnson can make the offensive more productive down the road.
"It really helps us a lot going against our defense because they are real good and real fast," Slaughter said. "It paints a real good picture for the whole year to come. It definitely helps. It's fun out there right now. I'm having a blast."