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Thursday, Aug. 04, 2011

Auburn football notes: NCAA Clearinghouse approves Tigers' entire freshman class as academically qualified

- abitter@ledger-enquirer.com
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn’s freshman class is all present and accounted for.

Running back Tre Mason was officially the last of Auburn’s 24 signees from February to get approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse, just hours before the Tigers had their first practice of August on Wednesday night.

Of the 57 members in Auburn’s past two signing classes, including players who counted back to previous years, only one did not qualify -- Springville, Ala., wide receiver Jeremy Richardson, who went the junior college route in 2010.

The Tigers’ incoming class includes Florida running back transfer Mike Blakely, who tweeted last month that the NCAA rejected his appeal for immediate eligibility. Auburn coach Gene Chizik said at SEC media days that the matter is still pending.

Also in Auburn’s freshman class is running back Corey Grant of Opelika, a transfer from Alabama who is considered a walk-on.

Opening night

Auburn practiced for over two hours under the lights on the newly renovated practice fields behind the athletics complex Wednesday night to avoid the heat.

Although the Tigers have a new $16 million indoor facility, they practiced on the adjacent outdoor fields, doing mostly special teams work and position drills in helmets and shorts.

Auburn practices again tonight at 5:30 p.m. EDT, the second of four straight days of workouts.

Numbers game

Carver High’s Gabe Wright talked a big game when he wore a “Nick Who?” hat on signing day, referring to departed Auburn Lombardi Award-winning tackle Nick Fairley.

Wright showed he isn’t backing down from the comparisons, though, choosing to wear jersey No. 90. He is one of a number of freshmen wearing legacy numbers from last year’s roster.

Some others: wide receiver Sammie Coates is No. 18 (Kodi Burns), defensive end Keymiya Harrell is No. 45 (Antoine Carter), center Reese Dismukes is No. 50 (Ryan Pugh), offensive lineman Christian Westerman is No. 57 (Byron Isom), offensive lineman Greg Robinson is No. 73 (Lee Ziemba), H-back C.J. Uzomah is No. 81 (Terrell Zachery) and defensive tackle Angelo Blackson is No. 98 (Zach Clayton).

Nobody took the No. 2 jersey of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton.

Roster miscellany

Some other freshman numbers are: RB Quan Bray (4), QB Kiehl Frazier (10), TE Brandon Fulse (11), S Erique Florence (14), Grant (20), Blakely (22), LB Justin Garrett (26), DB Robenson Therezie (27), DB Jermaine Whitehead (32), LB Chris Landrum (33), Mason (41), DB Anthony Swain (44), WR Jaylon Denson (89), DL Jabrian Niles (93) and DL Devaunte Sigler (96).

The freshmen who enrolled in winter already had numbers: Jonathan Rose (28), Dismukes (50) and Thomas O’Reilly (66).

Freshman linebacker Kris Frost, who reportedly had recent shoulder surgery, is not on the roster but will be added once it expands at the start of school.

Sophomore defensive back Ryan Smith is on the roster after sitting out last spring while dealing with personal issues.

The roster breakdown: 15 seniors, 17 juniors, 19 sophomores and 54 freshmen, both redshirt and true.

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