Slade Making Noise Up Front For Tigers

Auburn freshman offensive lineman Chad Slade talks about his first preseason with the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--When Auburn signed a very talented offensive line class in February, one name that wasn't a household one in the recruiting world was Chad Slade. Mostly a defensive player until his senior year, Slade stayed virtually under the radar, but that's not the case any longer.

While he may have had the lower expectations than many of his new teammates in the class according to recruiting rankings, the 6-6, 320 Slade is currently the only freshman offensive line signee not working on the scout team as he's been impressive enough at right tackle and right guard to catch the eye of coach Jeff Grimes.

"He's a really talented kid and I think he's got a great future in front of him," Grimes says. "He kind of separated himself from those other freshmen in terms of being a little bit more ready. He learned the system and picked it up more quickly. He's also in a little bit better shape than those other guys.

"Right now we're playing him at tackle," he adds. "He's a guy I think could play either. We're going to see what he does in the next three or four weeks.

"When I've been in a position where I've had to play freshmen it hasn't always necessarily been in the first game," he adds. "Sometimes you don't need that guy until week four or week six. We're going to keep bringing him along and see how far he can come. Ideally you would love to redshirt those guys, but we'll see how he comes along. I'm pleased with his progress in a short amount of time for a young guy."

Making the adjustment from high school to college as he continues to get healthier after a knee injury suffered as a senior at Moody, Slade says the preseason has been difficult at times just because of the speed of the game.

"It's going good so far," Slade says. "I'm just trying to get the hang of everything. I'm really just trying to get used to things. The toughest part is coming in and getting used to the pace of the offense. I'm getting better though.

"The toughest thing is that it's so fast," Slade adds. "The defensive ends are so much faster than guys were in high school. You can't push them around and bully them around like you can in high school. You just have to get used to it and get stronger."

Chad Slade (62) is shown at practice with sophomore lineman Andrew Parmer (72).

Something that Slade says has been big for him is to have the ears of four seniors up front. Using them to answer questions and to watch and learn from, he notes one in particular has been big for him.

"It's very helpful," Slade says. "I would like to point out somebody, Lee Ziemba. He is the one that has taught me. He's like a mentor to me. He has been very helpful for me throughout this whole transition from summer to camp."

Last season John Sullen came in and started a game and played in several more for the Tigers as a true freshman. With more depth on the line this year that may not happen for Slade but if it does he says he'll be ready.

"I just want to keep improving and try to get better every day," Slade says. "Some day I may be able to help the team out this season. Right now I'm just trying to improve and get everything down."

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