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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Freeman: 'Every time I wake up, I'm one day closer'

I wrote a feature on LB Eltoro Freeman for today's newspaper. Here's how it starts:
AUBURN, Ala. — Whenever linebacker Eltoro Freeman isn’t gung-ho about hitting the practice field behind the Auburn athletic complex, he pipes some Lil Wayne into his headphones to get amped up.

It’s a rare resort for the lively linebacker, who waited two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to get here.

“I know every time I go out there, every time I wake up, I’m one day closer,” he said. “So that’s real exciting.”

In his short time with the program, Freeman, who enrolled in school last January and went through spring drills, has brought an infectious energy to the linebacking corps. More importantly, he’s an extra body in a group that’s perilously thin.

Beyond the starting three of Josh Bynes (middle), Craig Stevens (strong side) and Freeman (weak side), Auburn is hurting for depth.

Converted safety Marcus Jemison was kicked off the team during the summer, leaving four other scholarship linebackers. Of those four, Spencer Pybus is the only one who received serious playing time last year on the regular defense, making 14 tackles as a true freshman. Sophomore Adam Herring was held out of the spring and still isn’t practicing because of an unspecified injury, and the other two — freshmen Harris Gaston and Jonathan Evans — just arrived in Auburn this summer.

Read the rest by clicking here.

It can't be mentioned enough how serious the depth issue at linebacker is. If any of those first three players go down, it's going to be tough. Pybus is a serviceable replacement, but he is still a significant drop-off from the starting unit. Beyond that, you're getting into a part of the roster that has absolutely no college experience.

Beyond that, there's also questions about how Freeman will adapt to playing in the SEC. So far, coaches have said he's picked up everything they've thrown at him in the spring and so far in August. This much is for sure: if Freeman doesn't succeed, it won't be for a lack of effort. As defensive coordinator Ted Roof said, he puts his heart and soul into everything he does on a football field.

There's another practice today with two brief viewing sessions for the media. I'll have a couple of updates. Want them instantly? Follow me on Twitter for immediate news.

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