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Saturday, Mar. 26, 2011

Auburn football notes: Gene Chizik wants physical spring but wary of team's thin depth

- abitter@ledger-enquirer.com
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn will don full pads and practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium today, the team’s third workout of the spring.

The Tigers have spent the first two days in shorts and helmets, working out at the Hutsell-Rosen Track and the Auburn Soccer Complex because of construction of the new indoor football facility behind the athletics complex.

Coach Gene Chizik knows with 52 scholarship players on the roster this spring, he will have to monitor how much contact the team does.

“We’re not going to go out there and just try to knock each other out, but we’re going to put on the pads and we’re going to hit some,” he said. “One of our ideas in spring is to always have very physical spring practices. We will do that. … But we will have to be smart as we proceed obviously, because our numbers are low.”

Auburn has 15 practices this spring. Four, including A-Day on April 16, are expected to be at Jordan-Hare.

Roster miscellany

Chizik clarified roster comings and goings Friday:

Linebacker Jessel Curry, who got some playing time as a freshman early last year but whose last-season absence went unexplained, is dealing with “personal issues,” Chizik said. He has not been on the field.

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ed Christian is banged up and isn’t practicing. Neither is offensive lineman Thomas O’Reilly, an early enrollee who reportedly had offseason surgery.

Offensive tackle Shon Coleman, a highly touted 2010 signee who battled leukemia last spring, is on the roster but not practicing. Chizik sounded upbeat about having him around.

“It’s just great to have him in school,” he said. “What a great story that this guy has done what he’s done. He’s in school. Obviously, within our medical plan, he is doing the things that he needs to do to continue to try to get well and be a part of Auburn football. If that happens, that’s awesome. If it doesn’t, he’s part of the Auburn family, and he’s here.”

Oddly, Chizik wouldn’t say definitively whether three scholarship players not on the roster this spring -- wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis, tight end Robert Cooper and offensive lineman Andre Harris -- are off the team for good.

“I don’t want to go into the specifics and the details of every guy,” Chizik said. “Obviously, we hold our guys to a certain standard. … If you don’t see them out there, then that’s where they’re at right now.”

Bang the Drum

Auburn had a surprise addition to its spring football roster: wide receiver Jake Drum, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound walk-on forward on the basketball team.

Drum played sparingly during the basketball season, appearing in 11 games and scoring 9 points in 59 minutes, but decided to give football a try.

He went to Spain Park High in Hoover, although his basketball bio lists no football experience.

Extra points

Linebacker Jawara White stretched with the team but did not wear a helmet, sitting out the more extensive drills. The linebacker had neck surgery last season. … Ladarious Phillips, a 291-pound redshirt freshman, worked as an H-back during drills Friday. Auburn is looking to replace Eric Smith, who was dismissed following his second arrest in February.

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