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Friday, March 26, 2010

Full practice notes: Speedy running back Onterio McCalebb packing on the pounds

AUBURN, Ala. — Onterio McCalebb is ready to be an every-down back for Auburn, and he’s packed on the pounds to prove it.

The speedy McCalebb has added 10 pounds to his frame, putting him at 175. His goal by next season is 185, hoping it’s enough to take a pounding from SEC defenses.

“I slept, I ate, I worked out real hard,” McCalebb said. “When I first got here, I was a freshman and I wanted to party and stuff like that. Now I’m trying to become a leader. It’s not about going out and partying. It’s game time.”

With highly touted freshman Michael Dyer, ESPN’s top overall running back recruit, not joining the team until the summer, now is the time for Auburn’s returning backs to make an impression. McCalebb, a sophomore, joins senior Mario Fannin and redshirt freshman Dontae Aycock in the backfield this spring.

Despite the added weight, McCalebb doesn’t think he’s lost his trademark speed, which helped him run for 565 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman.

“The only time I can notice it is when I walk,” he said. “I walk heavy now. I can feel it in my feet. They weigh me down.”

Asked if he was still the fastest guy on the team, McCalebb didn’t hesitate: “Yes, sir.”

Here are some other notes and quotes from today's round of interviews:
  • Head coach Gene Chizik on the second day of spring practice: "Second day I thought was better. I thought the tempo was a little bit better than yesterday and it needed to be. The excitement of the first day was gone, obviously, so today I felt was more of a focus on the details of the things we didn't do good yesterday. Obviously have a long way to go but I thought the tempo of practice was really good. Again, a good second, learning day. Obviously tomorrow we're in pads for the first day. We've got some things that we've got to evaluate tomorrow when we get into pads but overall today, good day and we're looking forward to our first day tomorrow in pads."
  • Fannin on McCalebb: "Onterio is back and he’s healthy, and he’s doing everything he can to stay healthy. That’s what I admire about him – he’s a small guy, but he has the heart of a big guy, and that’s something you have to have in the SEC. Coaches understand he has the heart of a lion, and that’s why I commend him so much. He’s a real tough guy." Fannin also described McCalebb as "getting more ripped."
  • Fannin feels at home playing tailback again. "It’s a blessing being able to play tailback at Auburn," he said. "There have been a lot of great guys who have come through here, so being part of that tradition is big." He's prepared all offseason as though he'll stay there. "I’m definitely working on being quicker," he said. "I’m definitely working on building my leg strength up. I’m definitely working on being mentally tough. If you’re tired, you have to push yourself. If you want to come out after the third play of the drive, and you’ve broken a run for 25 yards and a 5-yard run, you’ve got to push yourself through it. Mainly, you have to be mentally tough and build my endurance up."
  • With Mike Berry recovering from minor offseason knee surgery, senior Bart Eddins has worked with the ones at left guard. Eddins’ career has been slowed by three surgeries on his right knee, procedures that require him to wear large ice packs after every practice. “I get up and I feel like a 70-year-old man grunting and moaning getting out of bed,” he joked. Naturally, he relishes the opportunity to play, particularly after getting his first and only career start at Tennessee last year in place of a suspended Byron Isom. “It’s motivation. It’s addicting,” Eddins said. “(Tennessee) was just one of the things that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. It just makes you want to go back for more.”
  • Finding playing time could be difficult this season, however. Auburn returns four starting linemen, with junior college transfers Brandon Mosley and Roszell Gayden expected to battle for the vacant right tackle job. Eddins thinks he can fit in where needed. He can play guard on both sides and has experience as a center. “I’ll be here to sub in or anything like that,” he said. “I’ll be here for the team.”
  • Auburn will host its Junior Day this afternoon, with 128 prospects expected to attend. Among the visitors will be Spanish Fort, Ala., center Reese Dismukes, one of the state’s top prospects for 2011. He has both Auburn and Alabama on his list. Other expected visitors, according to the Auburn Sports Blog, include Russellville, Ala., linebacker/running back Brent Calloway, Valley, Ala., safety Erique Florence, Gadsden, Ala., safety Anthony Swain, Valdosta, Ga., tight end/defensive end Jay Rome, Adel, Ga., linebacker Shannon Brown, Griffin, Ga., safety Corey Moore and Marietta, Ga., offensive lineman Thomas O’Reilly. Cullman, Ala., offensive lineman Spencer Region, an Auburn commit, is expected to attend as well.
  • The wide receiver depth chart isn't set yet, but it's starting to take shape. Darvin Adams and DeAngelo Benton are working at one outside spot; Terrell Zachery and Quindarius Carr at the other. In the slot, Emory Blake, Kodi Burns, Jay Wisner and Derek Winter are all getting reps.
  • Benton on a third receiver stepping up behind Adams and Zachery: "It's all about working hard when you got out there, all of us competing. On the other hand, we're trying to make each other better. Whoever get the spot, you know they've earned it."
  • Chizik said he expects big things for linebacker Eltoro Freeman. "I got very, very high expectations for him. The standard as I told him and our whole football team has gone up. Certainly for him. He's been in two years now. We've got to keep him healthy, obviously. He's got to learn a lot of football and he's got a long way to go but I think he's being very humble. He knows that he's got a lot of football to learn. If he'll do that and stay humble, he'll be a lot better football player than he was last year and he'll contribute a lot better to Auburn than he did last year."
  • DT Nick Fairley said fundamental work was important for him as last season progressed, and it was starting to show toward the end of the year, when he got more playing time. His position coach, Tracy Rocker, agreed. "When you are departing from JUCO or departing from high school, you got to break some of the habits," he said. " That’s part of it. We spend a lot of time just talking about how to play, breaking those habits.As you saw as the season ended last year, he understood a little bit more technique-wise, fundamental-wise. That’s what’s important."
  • Senior Antoine Carter and sophomore Dee Ford are working on what Rocker referred to as the "quick end." Senior Michael Goggans and redshirt freshman Nose Eguae are working on the other side.
  • Daren Bates showed off quite an elaborate tattoo before doing an interview. He has MEMPHIS tatted (as the kids say) across the top of his chest in big. block letters from shoulder to shoulder. Says he got it before the bowl game. I guess if playing with a torn labrum doesn't hurt you, getting a big tattoo won't either.

1 comment:

maggie said...

It seems hard to beleive he is so small