BY RYAN BLACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn players never got tired of hearing the bell in the locker room this summer.
When the bell rang, it meant good things were happening, signifying that someone in the locker room achieved a personal record. The player doing the honors of ringing the bell, of course, was the same one who set a new high.
“When somebody rings the bell, it fuels the emotions in the weight room,” linebacker Jake Holland said Thursday. “Everybody gets pumped up and cheers everybody on. It makes it more of a unit instead of just one guy getting better.”
Strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell’s program has done wonders for the Tigers, Holland said. Not just from helping them get into better shape, but due to the spirit of competition it fostered.
“He gives us goals, the PRs (personal records), that we like to hit,” Holland said. “A lot of people have hit that. That gives you a goal, a platform, to get better every week.”
Holland will similarly have to use fall camp as a platform to state his case for increased playing time. After starting 16 games over the last two seasons, Holland enters fall camp as the backup to Kris Frost at middle linebacker. In his four years at Auburn, Holland said he couldn’t recall a time when there was so much competition among the linebackers unit.
The Pelham, Ala., native welcomed the challenge it presents.
“I’m looking forward to getting better, going out there and learning from Coach (Ellis) Johnson and winning my spot back,” he said.
As tough as it is for an experienced player like Holland to crack the starting lineup, it’s even tougher for an incoming freshman joining the fray. It’s not just about learning what to do on the field. It means adapting to living on your own for the first time and dealing with the rigors of college-level classes.
So what advice does Holland have for true freshman Cameron Toney?
“Cameron and I are good friends,” he said. “I’m looking forward to passing it along to him, teaching him what I know. I’m looking forward to this camp to see what he has to offer. Coming from high school, it’s a big step. You’re living on your own. You’re having to go by a schedule everyday. It’s a little different. If you have guys ahead of you to show you the ropes like I did, it makes it a lot easier.”