AUBURN, Ala. — Weak-side linebacker Eltoro Freeman is slowly working himself back into Auburn’s rotation from a hamstring injury. Walk-on Wade Christopher has kept his spot warm.
Christopher, a redshirt sophomore from Vestavia Hills, Ala., has moved around all three linebacker positions, filling in whenever there’s been a need.
“I feel like my strength is just knowing how all three positions work,” he said. “I feel like I can play at any one of them. I know as far as what one guy does and how the others defend off it.”
Freeman, a projected starter, returned Tuesday after missing most of the last two weeks with hamstring and hand issues (he no longer had a cast on his right wrist). But Christopher worked with the first team at weak side during an 11-on-11 drill.
“I’m just happy to help the defense any way I can,” Christopher said. “Obviously you don’t want guys going down in front of you, but that’s the point of having depth. You have to have guys behind you stepping up.”
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Christopher didn’t have any major scholarship offers coming out of high school but got a chance to walk on at Auburn, his favorite team growing up. He also chose the school for its strong Biomedical Science program.
He played sparingly his freshman year on special teams before being redshirted last year. But with Auburn’s depth situation at linebacker this August, there’s a good chance he could get on the field early this season.
“I haven’t been on the field and I’m fittin’ to get out there,” Christopher said. “So I’m really excited.”
Freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison, who is battling junior Neil Caudle for the backup job, missed Tuesday’s practice because of the flu, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said.
Coaches have given Rollison the majority of reps with the second team since naming Chris Todd the starting quarterback two weeks ago. Caudle worked with the second team during a portion of Tuesday’s practice open to the media.
According to the Opelika-Auburn News, 25 players on Opelika High’s football team sat out of practice Monday, most with flu-like symptoms. Chizik is trying to avoid a similar situation on the eve of the season.
“We’re trying everything we can do to keep it from spreading to our team,” Chizik said. “(Rollison’s) just got a little bit of that. He’s fine. He’ll be fine.”
Still not cleared
Wide receiver Montez Billings has to meet more than Chizik’s standards to get back on the field. Days after wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said all he was waiting for was Chizik’s approval to allow the senior back into the receiver rotation, Chizik said he was waiting for word from someone else.
“It’s in somebody else’s (hands),” he said.
Billings, who graduated last spring, sat out the spring because of an academic issue. He returned this summer but still has an ambiguous team standing. On Tuesday, he worked as a scout team player, wearing a blue No. 18 jersey during drills instead of his usual 84.