Daily Archive for August 13th, 2008
Tempo guru and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin has brought his magic to the Plains this season. With a talented line and a bunch of good running backs, the effect should be immediate.
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn junior cornerback Jerraud Powers thinks this is finally the year.
He smiles when he says it, but he thinks this is the year that middle linebacker Tray Blackmon fully introduces himself to the rest of the SEC.
“I know we’ve been saying that for the past couple of years,” Powers said. “And last year, I thought, was going to be his year, and a couple of injuries set him back.
“This year, he’s healthy. He’s stronger, bigger, faster and understands everything. His head’s on straight, and he’s loving and enjoying the experience right now. I don’t think a lot of people have seen that out of Tray since he’s been here. It’s going to be a different Tray, and I think it’s going to be back to his high school ways.”
His high school ways made him one of the most highly recruited linebackers in the country out of LaGrange, Ga. But Blackmon’s the first to admit that he didn’t adjust very well socially to college life.
He redshirted his first year and was suspended for the first six games of his second year on campus, his redshirt freshman season. And then last season, he missed four games because of a recurring ankle injury.
“I think people have seen what I can do in flashes, like against Arkansas and Alabama last year,” Blackmon said. “There were some games, but I want to put together a full season, healthy and all-out balling.
“It’s definitely feeling like that year. I’m healthy, and I’m handling all my business on the field and off the field. Everything’s ahead of me now. I’m going into everything prepared and feeling good.”
More than anything, Blackmon said he’s matured. He was popped for underage alcohol consumption before he ever played a game at Auburn and admitted he had several other things off the field that landed him in Tommy Tuberville’s doghouse.
“I thought about transferring while I was suspended, thought about giving up,” Blackmon said. “But Auburn stuck with me. The coaches stood in my corner. That whole experience humbled me and brought me back to reality. Now, I’m going to pay Auburn back.”
Blackmon won’t have to do it by himself, either. He thinks this is the most complete defense he’s been a part of at Auburn.
“We’ve always had speed and guys who want to play,” Blackmon said. “Sometimes we haven’t had the best depth at positions. But I think this year, when you look at speed and all the guys running around that will hit you, it’s the best it’s been since I’ve been here.”