Auburn’s spring drills are over, but the work, head coach Gene Chizik said, is far from done.
The Tigers had a wrap-up practice Monday, their 15th and final workout of the spring, where they corrected things after reviewing film of A-Day.
“We’ve got a whole summer in front of us which our expectation is that our whole team is working extremely hard to build on what we’ve started to accomplish these 15 days,” Chizik said. “So a lot is going to depend on what they do voluntarily.”
Chizik sees no decision forthcoming in the quarterback battle between Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley, expecting it to last into August.
“Unless something drastic happens, I don’t anticipate us being able to make a decision before sometime in two-a-days,” he said. “You never say never, but again, I’d have to see a clear cut definitive change and that would be hard for us to do because we’re not going to be out there.”
While most of the attention this spring has been on the quarterback battle, Chizik said the coaches will sit down with every player on the roster for “exit interviews,” just to give them a sense of where they are in the pecking order.
“We’re very candid about where everybody stands in relationship to other players competing for jobs,” Chizik said. “Guys become good at football in parts. They don’t just become good at everything all at once. You’ve got to give them a good idea where they’re at.”
“That’s huge because the only thing we can do is exactly what you think, is to give it everything we’ve got, trust in them, do whatever they tell us to do and not worry about that,” Moseley said. “But at the same time, we are human beings. I want to know where I’m at. I want to know what I did wrong in-depth.”
As for Chizik, the focus shifts to recruiting, with the spring evaluation period approaching.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “It never ends.”
Some other notes and quotes following Monday’s practice:
- Moseley, for one, is looking forward to running things this summer. “I have to carry a whole new outlook, a whole new demeanor to summer,” he said. “I used to go into the summer thinking I’ve got to work out, this little hour thing, no big deal. Well now, it’s a big deal to me personally. Either I take advantage of the opportunity of getting better as a leader and trying to actually get my teammates better, or it can hurt me.”
- Moseley, who had a so-so A-Day after seeing film: “It’s never as bad as you think it is. I did some good things overall. It was just a slow day.”
- Defensive line coach Mike Pelton said his top-five players were ends Nosa Eguae, Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford, in addition to tackles Jeffrey Whitaker and Ken Carter. “That’s a good package,” Pelton said.
- Pelton was especially impressed with the progress Ford, a junior, made this spring. “He showed an explosiveness to get off the football,” Pelton said. “A couple times he was clearly a hat ahead of everybody else. He just had a knack for getting off the football. Now, sometimes he wants to drift a little bit and get too wide, but he really started understanding who he was and what he brought to the game. And you started seeing it every day, and he started focusing on those things. And he started getting better. He wasn’t bored with what he was doing. He got better at what he was doing, and it just showed.”
- Pelton said Columbus DT signee Gabe Wright was at A-Day. The coach gave him some grief about the “Nick Who?” hat he wore when he announced was coming to Auburn. The Nick in question is Nick Fairley, the departing Lombardi Award winner who should be a top-10 draft pick. Pelton’s response? “I said, ‘You’re writing big checks, son.”
- In case you couldn’t tell, Pelton is pretty grateful to be at his alma mater, taking Tracy Rocker‘s place. He said he just stood by himself during the A-Day for a second and took the whole scene in. The fight song played and he got “chill bumps,” adding, “You can’t explain the excitement I have just coaching every day. You never take it for granted. Because in our profession, one day you’re in one place and the next year you could be somewhere else, so the journey to get me here, I don’t ever take nothing for granted. … And that’s how I plan to just do it until the day I die.”
- Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said he doesn’t have a starting five picked out yet. Even if he did, I don’t think he’d tell us at this point.
- OL Aubrey Phillips sat down and talked for us today. Sounds like a great comeback story that I would like to write in more detail a little bit later. Here’s the crux of the story: Phillips transferred here in the summer of 2009 after initially signing with Florida State. But he ran into a medical issue fairly early on and had family issues that led to him leaving school before the end of the semester. Two years later, he’s back, and from the sounds of it, is in a better frame of mind. He said he was immature and making dumb decisions when he was first here. Now? “I’m happy to be around the guys again,” he said. “It feels like home once again.”
- What motivated him to get back? Shon Coleman. The two were one-time teammates at Olive Branch High School in Mississippi. Phillips came to a couple of games with Coleman last year. He also saw what his friend was going through, battling back from cancer treatments. “That pushed me to a whole ‘nother level,” he said. “After I saw him still fighting after he — he didn’t even have any injuries — a lot of people would have folded, gave up. He stuck in there. Nothing was going to stop him from doing what he wants to do, which is play football. He’s my guy. I talk to him almost everyday. Every time he needed therapy, I’d talk to him and see how it was going. He kept me up and humble. If he can do it, I can do it. My situation wasn’t as severe as his. I said: I can’t give up like that.”
- Phillips, who is working at right tackle behind Brandon Mosley, said he’s at 340 pounds now but would like to drop another 10 pounds. He was 365 when he first got to Auburn.
- He sounded humbled by his whole experience the first time around. “I was kind of cocky, you could say,” Phillips said. “I thought I’d come in and start at the top. Then all this stuff happened to me. God does stuff and has a plan for a reason. That was my sign … to take nothing for granted. With one play, everything can change.”