AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn's coaching staff didn't waste any time getting a look at the 27 newcomers who joined the team Friday.
Although it was their first practice of the preseason, the Tigers worked out for approximately three hours Saturday morning in sweltering conditions at Auburn's intramural fields.
“We were out here probably a little bit too long, but we wanted to look at a lot more of the younger players as the day went on,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We're gonna try to rest tomorrow some of the starters and some of the guys that have been out here. We've got to make a decision pretty quick on some of the younger players.”
Thanks to temperatures in the mid-90s and considerable humidity, many players were sucking wind by the end of practice. Tuberville said it was a productive first day, although their reactions to the conditions made it evident which players were physically prepared to begin practicing.
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“You can tell the sun got to some of them pretty quick,” he said. “The ones that didn't work quite as hard during the summer usually show up a lot quicker on the injury report. It is hot and it is humid. Everybody across the country's doing it and we're gonna put our time in.”
Tuberville said he was pleased with the first-day intensity, although he expects it to wane as the team continues its stretch of practices for 17 consecutive days without a break.
Things actually got a bit too intense in a secondary drill midway through practice, when a group of defensive backs piled up and punches were thrown before coaches stepped in to break up the scrum.
Freshman safety and former Carver High star DeRon Furr was on the bottom of the pile and was visibly shaken up in the scuffle. He sat on his hands and knees for a few minutes before requiring a trainer's assistance to make it to the shade of a nearby tent set up for the players' water breaks between practice periods.
Furr spent the remainder of practice under the tent, but appeared to be OK by the end of practice. He huddled with his teammates at the end of practice to listen to Tuberville address the team and walked back to the athletics building after practice without issue.
While his teammates practiced in shorts and helmets as part of the NCAA-mandated heat acclimation period, Mario Fannin practiced in shoulder pads.
It wasn't some bizarre form of punishment. The pads were a precautionary measure to protect Fannin's surgically repaired shoulder.
“They all shouldn't have pads on right now in terms of shoulder pads just because of injury's sake,” Tuberville said. “But we'll have one more of these (in shorts and helmets) and then we'll be a little bit better off as we go to Monday.”
Defensive linemen Tez Doolittle (hamstring) and Antonio Carter (hamstring) worked on the side, while defensive end Andre Wadley (heat-related illness) and offensive lineman Chaz Ramsey (back) did not practice.
Tuberville said he doesn't anticipate Wadley practicing with the team anytime soon, after heat-related issues put him in the hospital for a week earlier this summer.
“He probably won't do anything in two-a-days. He'll start school and we'll bring him along slow,” Tuberville said. “That situation, especially in this heat, you don't want to take any chances. But he's not ready to go at all right now. He's still recovering.”
Defensive back Ryan Williams is back with the team after academic issues forced him to return home to Mobile for a month this summer. Tuberville said Williams' academic issues are resolved and he practiced with the team Saturday, but the month away from the team took its toll. “He's just not in great shape right now. He hasn't been here, so we've got to get him in better shape,” Tuberville said. … The Tigers return to practice at Auburn's intramural fields this afternoon at 4:45 p.m. The entire practice will be open to the public.