Knee injuries to two players thrust Auburn’s John Sullen into the mix at left guard this spring, giving the sophomore a chance to work with the first team.
Although he remains a work in progress, Sullen has made the most of the opportunity.
“I’ve seen flashes and we’ve seen evidence that he’s got a chance to help us down the road,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. “He’s just got to continue to improve.”
Sullen, a local product from Auburn High, had an up-and-down first year. He showed up to school overweight, maxing out over 350 pounds, but worked hard to slim down.
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Despite being green, he was called upon to start against Ball State when guard Byron Isom was suspended. He fared OK, but was nonetheless replaced by Bart Eddins against Tennessee the next week, relegated to mostly special teams play the rest of the season.
But with starter Mike Berry and Eddins, a senior, sitting out this spring because of knee injuries, Sullen has stepped in.
“He’s been playing much harder and more physical, playing with more effort,” offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said. “A lot of that is just due to having more confidence after having been threw a fall and knowing the system.”
As has been the case since he got to Auburn, Sullen has worked on getting his weight down, playing this spring at 323 pounds.
“He was in much better condition than he was in the fall,” Grimes said. “In the fall he did not come in in great shape. He was overweight. He’s in much better position now in terms of just being able to play hard.”
For three years, Anthony Gulley waited for paperwork to be processed that would allow him to be called Anthony Gulley-Morgan. It’s a nod to Matthew and Deborah Morgan, the Brantley, Ala., couple that became his legal guardians several years ago.
The forms finally went through recently, thus the hyphenated name this spring.
“I’ve been living with this family since I was real small,” he said. “They took me in. I went to church with them. It was my decision. I wanted to change my name because I felt part of the family. I wanted to thank them for all the stuff they did for me.”
Gulley-Morgan, who played receiver and cornerback his freshman year, has played exclusively on defense this spring in order to give the Tigers some needed depth in the secondary.
He played some defense at Brantley High, so it’s not a foreign concept to him.
“As I play it more I’m starting to like it better than offense,” he said.
Tough to tackle
Quarterbacks have not gone live this spring, meaning defenders aren’t allowed to hit them or take them to the ground.
It means linebacker Josh Bynes hasn’t had to tackle Cam Newton, who, at 6-foot-6, 247 pounds, is a load to get to the ground.
“I know he’s a big guy with nice size, but shoot, I’m big too,” Bynes joked. “I ain’t little. So he’s got to go down just like every other player I take down.”
Bynes withheld judgment of Newton before he arrived on campus, not wanting to buy into the Internet hype. Consider Bynes impressed so far.
“He’s competitive. He likes to get after it,” Bynes said. “He’s letting things come to him rather than let things happen.”
Chizik said there was no change in the quarterback situation as of Monday. ... Chizik anticipates that Auburn will do another half scrimmage before Saturday’s A-Day game. ... Auburn has not decided the format for the A-Day scrimmage.