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Monday, June 21, 2010

While we were gone ...

It was a refreshing week of vacation, but the blog is back for the next week and a half. Until, of course, another quick getaway, this time to Minnesota to see the folks. (Such is the life of a sportswriter, needing to cram all allotted vacation hours into amonthlong span).

ANYWAY, some things happened on the beat while I was gone. Let's rattle through them quickly with some belated thoughts.
  1. It will cost $16 million and be privately funded. I don't think Auburn will have any trouble getting donors to chip in.
  2. It'll be 92,000 feet. Sounds big. More importantly, it puts the Tigers on par with all the other SEC schools that have indoor facilities. It's always nice for a program to be on an equal footing with stuff like that, especially when it comes to impressing recruits.
  3. Auburn is sparing no expense with this new coaching staff in refreshing everything about the program. The athletic complex underwent renovations last year. The practice facility will be next. Makes you wonder when the next face lift for Jordan-Hare will take place?
  • The football team got a commitment from Mobile, Ala., defensive end JaBrian Niles last week, shortly after attending Auburn's Senior Camp. Niles is a 6-foot-2, 270-pound three-star recruit, according to Rivals. He had offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Ole Miss and Texas Tech. He's the Tigers' eighth commitment for 2011 and their second defensive lineman, joining Bear, Del., defensive tackle Angelo Blackson.
  • As expected, Auburn's baseball stars are starting to sign major league contracts. First baseman Hunter Morris got a $217,800 bonus from the Brewers. Center fielder Trent Mummey got $252,000 from the Orioles. Catcher Ryan Jenkins (Royals) and closer Austin Hubbard (Rays) -- both seniors -- also signed.
  • That leaves quite a few unsigned players for Auburn. The most interesting to watch will be pitchers Cole Nelson (10th round, Tigers) and Grant Dayton (11th round, Marlins), Brian Fletcher (18th round, Royals) and Kevin Patterson (23rd round, Rays). Nelson and Dayton were both taken high enough that you'd figure they would sign, just to minimize the risk of dropping in the draft next year (and, as seniors, losing any signing leverage they might have). Fletcher and Patterson, both juniors, are in the same boat, although both went lower in this year's draft than expected. Would that be enough for them to come back to Auburn for their senior year? I wouldn't bet on it. But if the money's not right, it could be a possibility. Non-senior college players have until Aug. 16 to sign.
  • I also have to point out a well done story on safety Zac Etheridge by fellow beat writer Andrew Gribble of the Opelika-Auburn News. Etheridge hasn't put on pads since the scary hit that nearly paralyzed him last fall, but he's worked on getting his strength back in the weight room. Key date: July 20. That's when he'll find out if he's cleared medically to play his final season at Auburn.
  • And to close things out, here's an artist's rendering of what the inside of the indoor practice facility will look like:

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