Auburn, Alabama battle for Senior Bowl cheers

Two days after Nick Saban made his annual appearance at the Senior Bowl, Gus Malzahn followed suit. Both were mugging for the cameras with their former players and talking them up.

MOBILE, Ala. — Perhaps it was because Alabama coach Nick Saban showed up Tuesday at the Senior Bowl to take a few on-field pictures with four of his Crimson Tide players.

Roll Tide!

Not to be outdone by a Southeastern Conference rival, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn attended Thursday’s practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, then struck the on-field pose with six of his players.

War Eagle!

Malzahn was joined by former quarterback Nick Marshall, who is converting to cornerback, wide receiver Sammie Coates, running back Cameron Artis-Payne, center Reese Dismukes, tight end C.J. Uzomah and defensive tackle Gabe Wright.

Saban had smiled for the camera with quarterback Blake Sims, fullback Jalston Fowler, offensive guard Arie Kouandjio and offensive tackle Austin Shepherd.

That the two proud programs have 10 players on the South roster explains why each of that team's three days of practice drew significantly larger crowds than the North squad workouts.

Whenever Sims made a play on Thursday, a smattering of Crimson Tide fans cheered their approval on an overcast, chilly afternoon. Even when he scrambled, someone in the stands offered encouragement.

And when an Auburn player did something noteworthy, at least one fan was heard to holler repeatedly, “War Eagle!”

In an ironic twist, Marshall sometimes lined up opposite Coates, his No. 1 receiver with the Tigers. And while Marshall is expected to need some time to adjust to his new position, the converted quarterback did have an interception Thursday.

Last year’s Senior Bowl had four players from each program on the South roster. The year before that, it was five from Alabama and one from Auburn.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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