Illinois transfer Jay Prosch, Auburn’s new prototypical fullback, is taking part in his first practices with the Tigers right now while he awaits the NCAA’s ruling on his transfer case. For today’s Ledger-Enquirer, I wrote a story on Prosch. Here’s the beginning of that story.
AUBURN, Ala. — A two-year starter at Illinois who transferred to Auburn in January to be closer to his mother, Iris, who is battling cancer, Jay Prosch has been through only two days of practice with the Tigers.
He already feels at home.
Prosch, a native of Mobile, Ala., has been home to visit his mother four times already. Iris has made the trip to Auburn three times. While more than a few of his teammates took spring break trips to student-soaked beaches, Prosch headed back home again.
“For me, that’s unreal,” Prosch said. “In Illinois, it was a 12½-hour drive, and it’s not like I could just pick a weekend and drive with football, so really, it was only the breaks.”
Prosch would have liked to begin his college career at Auburn. Born into a family of three girls, his parents weren’t big football fans, but Prosch became an Auburn fan as he got older.
And he knew Auburn’s campus well. One of his older sisters attended Auburn, and he spent plenty of time on the plains visiting her.
Only one problem: Auburn had no place for him.
A first-team all-state linebacker as a senior at UMS-Wright, a preparatory school in Mobile, Prosch was a lightly regarded recruit after playing offensive line in high school.
“Whenever I left high school, I really didn’t have many offers,” Prosch said. “That’s why I went to Illinois. It was probably the best offer I had, and the school I felt like fit me the best.”
In case you missed the story on the L-E’s website this morning, here’s the rest of the link: New fullback Jay Prosch already feels at home on the Plains after transfer from Illinois to be closer to ailing mother.
Prosch’s unique abilities — he’s one of the best lead blockers in the country — were on display in Auburn’s first full-pads practice of the season Monday, and running backs coach Curtis Luper dropped by to chat about his new weapon later in the day.
For starters, Prosch has already developed a reputation among his new teammates, and it’s already earned him a nickname.
“They call him the Juggernaut,” Luper said. “You know, (guys like Prosch) are hard to find. There aren’t many guys who can power clean 400 pounds and run like he can run and block like he can, as flexible as he is, the hands that he has. He’s a prototype fullback.”
As a team, Auburn got off to a slow start for its first day in pads, at least in terms of physicality, but Prosch needed no prompting.
“He created some space for us today,” Prosch said. “He hits somebody every day.”
- Luper also had high praise for Tre Mason, who is in a battle for playing time at running back with Onterio McCalebb, Corey Grant and Mike Blakely. “Tre’s gained 10 pounds,” Luper said. “He’s still holding around 200. He’s quick as a cat, he’s smart, he’s tough. I like what he’s done, physically, to his body over the last several months. We’re going to get the ball to him several different ways. He can catch the football. We’re going to be involved in the passing game a lot more from a tailback perspective, so we’re excited to use Tre.”
- Mason made his goals clear in his first interview. “I was ready for contact since the season ended,” Mason said. “Just getting back into things and working my hardest to become a starter.”
- Picking up the offense hasn’t been a problem for Mason. In some ways, he said, the new offense is easier to understand. “The offense is easier to understand,” Mason said. “It’s kind of too early to tell right now, because we don’t have all our plays in, but everybody’s doing the same thing.”
- Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley shed a little more light on his shoulder injury. He did not throw at all during Monday’s practice. “It’s just a little aggravated. It’s just a little inflammation of the rotator cuff. It’s something I’m getting therapy on three times a day,” Moseley said. “I ‘m trying to come back as soon as I can.”
- Moseley said it was Loeffler’s decision to shut him down after he aggravated the shoulder on Saturday. “It was hurting pretty good,” Moseley said. “Coach Loeffler just wants to be smart with our arms. He’s not trying to kill you.”
- Moseley still suited up and went through all non-throwing drills. “I can do everything but really drive the ball. I can’t put much on it,” Moseley said. “I want to be smart with my arm. I can do the footwork stuff and the handoffs, and all that stuff.”
Loeffler’s a stickler for details on the quarterback’s dropbacks, and Moseley said it’s a function of Auburn’s system, which will call for a lot of play-action. ” It sets up the play action really well. That’s something that’s going to be huge in the offense,” Moseley said. “He just wants it to look at the exact same, everything the same, no wasted motion.”
- Jawara White, who is up to 245 pounds, has moved to middle linebacker behind Jake Holland, and he’s trying to fight for playing time against Holland, a friend of his. “We’re competing for the same job,” White said. “That friend stuff is out the window once you hit the field.”
- White has never played middle before, although Ted Roof worked him at the spot some last season.
- Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said the players understand how important the spring could be for their playing time later on. “They understand this is their 15-day interview, because come two-a-days we’re really giving the new freshmen a chance to interview and then polish them for the season,” Taylor said.
- Learning the new system offensively has been a challenge for the coaches, too. “It’s really like learning a new language,” Taylor said. “There are some intricacies on routes and different things that he’s done in his system, but there’s only so many routes in football. It’s really about learning the names and just putting them in packages so that the kids can understand. What you have to be careful of, as a coach you find yourself saying, ‘It’s like the old seven-cut.’ Well we got to get out of that old. It’s about the new right now. I can’t use that as a crutch.”
- It’s open competition at all three receiver spots for Auburn, but expect Emory Blake to be used all over the field next season. “I think he is one of the best in the league. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a receiver that runs better routes or is smarter. He may not be the fastest or the biggest or the strongest, but I guarantee he’s productive. And in any setting — inside, outside, you can move him out to a lot of place,” Taylor said. “We want No. 80 to catch 80 balls. Or more. And help him project himself to the next level.”