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Friday, August 21, 2009

Freshman OL Sullen getting first team reps

I wrote a story for the print edition of our newspaper about freshman OL John Sullen. Here's how it starts:

AUBURN, Ala. — A cold, hard number stared incoming Auburn freshman John Sullen in the face when he stepped on a scale at the end of May.

The offensive lineman had ballooned to 357 pounds, almost 20 more than his playing weight during his senior season at Auburn High last year, a fact he knew would enrage his soon-to-be college coaches.

“They were … whooooooo,” Sullen said, giving a lengthy exhale while shaking his head. “I don’t think I can say some of the things.”

Three months later, Sullen has shed 25 pounds and appears to be making a move in the backup offensive line pecking order. The freshman practiced with the first team at right guard Wednesday in place of the injured Byron Isom.

“It means a lot that coach has the faith to put me in there,” Sullen said. “And I really feel like I’ll be able to help the team soon.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Sullen's an interesting case. It didn't seem like he would be a candidate to play right way, but Auburn's depth problems on the offensive line already make him one of the options as a backup. It'll be interesting to see how Auburn plays things -- if it burns a redshirt on Sullen to use him in a backup role or if it chooses to patch things together in a reserve situation with another veteran player.

Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes sounds like he'll play whoever is capable of being on the field. And right now that looks like Sullen and walk-on Jorell Bostrom, neither of whom have seen any college action. That's not a good sign for an Auburn offensive line that's hoping nobody in its starting five gets hurt this season, which, as history shows, is an inevitability.

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