<
>

Auburn counting on freshmen in 2011

All 24 of the players in Auburn's freshman class are in school and academically qualified, which is a good thing for the Tigers.

They opened preseason camp on Wednesday, and coach Gene Chizik said a lot of those freshmen would be playing key roles this season.

"We did not recruit our freshmen to watch," said Chizik, who reeled in the nation's No. 3-rated class, according to ESPN Recruiting. "We didn't recruit them to observe everybody else play. We recruit them to come here and play. Not one of them are we saying, ‘Look, you’re redshirted until you prove you can play.’ It’s the opposite. It’s, 'You can play until we feel like there’s no way, and we’ll redshirt you.’ That’s how we see it.”

One of those freshmen, quarterback Kiehl Frazier, will battle for the starting quarterback job with junior Barrett Trotter and sophomore Clint Moseley.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Frazier said his first goal was to learn the playbook and get more comfortable in Gus Malzahn's system. That shouldn't be too difficult. He's known Malzahn since he was in the seventh grade and ran a similar offense in high school in Springdale, Ark.

At this point, there's really not a leader in the Tigers' quarterback race, and Moseley said it's all about gaining the coaches' trust.

"Twenty years of doing what I love to do, and it’s all right now ... now or never," Moseley said. "So that’s all I’m focused on, gaining the trust however I can do that."

With so many players gone from last season's national championship team, Chizik said the Tigers have right around 72 scholarship players out for fall camp. The NCAA limit is 85.

Of the 105 players on the practice roster, more than half are true freshmen or redshirt freshmen.

Chizik's first impression of the new guys was all positive.

"They showed some impressive athleticism across the board," Chizik said. "Of course, without pads on, it's an unrealistic picture. I was really impressed with their effort and their focus."

Here are a few links recapping the Tigers' first practice from the school's official website, as well as The Birmingham News, Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer and Montgomery Advertiser.