Thursday, November 15, 2012
Alabama A&M Preview
There are several young men that will suit up and play out their Auburn careers inside of Jordan-Hare Stadium for the last time. Guys that have contributed in very large ways during their Auburn careers. Guys that can walk away from their time at Auburn and say something very few that have worn the jersey can...I was a national champion! I was a contributor on a team that beat all comers. As poorly and as disheartening their senior seasons have been, they leave having been a part of the greatest season in Auburn football history and for that they deserve our adoration.
Emory Blake- Burst onto the scene with a catch and run on a WR bubble screen against Mississippi State to open the scoring in SEC play for the 2010 Tigers. Ever since, he's truly been a joy to watch, a guy that comes to play every week, someone you can never question his effort and will leave as one of Auburn's all time greats at the position. Dependable, blue-collar, our only viable WR threat this season. He's been a great ambassador for Auburn.
Onterio McCalebb- I'll never forget his scamper around left end to break the LSU contest open in 2010. Over his career you always held your breath when he touched the ball because the homerun threat was real and the speed was breath-taking when it reached its peak. His highlight reel will make for spectacular viewing for many years to come. His game has been decimated this year without legitimate QB play.
Daren Bates- This guy has gone to war in a very physical way for Auburn University. I've always admired the passion he plays with as well as the selflessness it requires to play out of position due to the necessity of a thin linebacking unit. Even though he's had struggles with playing with technique, you can't question his tenacity and that I revere.
T'Sharvan Bell- Came out of nowhere with a pair of INTs to help win the Outback Bowl over Northwestern in 2009. And his sack of Greg McElroy in the 2010 Iron Bowl will live on as legend for generations. Injuries kept T'Sharvan from becoming the player we all hoped he would become, but nonetheless, the candor and demeanor represented us all well and his Iron Bowl sack was a critical play in our National Title run.
Phillip Lutzenkirchen- Was as athletic a TE I've ever seen. He could do it all. Once again, a guy asked to sacrifice the fame and glory of catching passes for trapping defensive tackles and lead blocking on middle linebackers. A phenomenal person and true gentleman, he will remain a fan favorite for his lifetime for his catch in front of the Alabama student section for the go ahead score in 2010. A tremendous face of the program we will struggle to replace.
DeAngelo Benton- A colossal bust. In fact, I thought he'd been kicked off the team until I saw him break the huddle midway through this season. He and Trovon Reed are battling for biggest bust of the Chizik era...right now I give it DeAngelo. For a guy we were told would break all the Auburn receiving records...his 15 career catches are a shame.
Anthony Morgan- Another guy lost within the program. Is he a tailback...is he is a defensive back?Shined when given the opportunity, but injuries were also a setback in his career. Respect him for sticking it out through it all.
Ikeem Means- Anyone who walks on and does enough to impress the coaches to earn a scholarship is a hero in my book. Walk-ons are treated poorly in college football and for a guy to battle through that, believe in his abilities, contribute every year he's there, and work his way towards the school paying his tuition...I stand and applaud! Your effort is not lost on me. I'd hire a guy like this in a heartbeat.
Jonathan Evans- Gets propelled into a starting role a true freshman against the undefeated 2009 Alabama squad and played admirably. Just never became the guy I expected after playing the game of his career against that Alabama team. A lot of raw ability, but consistency and injuries were his downfall. Still, battled for four season and that's commendable.
Ashton Richardson- Guys like Ikeem Means I'd hire...guys like Ashton Richardson I fear for my job. When you carry a GPA as lofty as this young man does while walking on and dedicating the required time towards getting your head pounded on the scout team, you have some qualities that make you an enviable and highly sought after guy. And when given the opportunity to play in the middle he's played well this season. He also proved he can grow an afro to stellar proportions, a quality earning high marks from me.
John Sullen- Has played a lot of snaps for his hometown university and has been a decent player. He's exceeded my expectations for him in terms of amount of playing time as I assumed other, more sought after lineman would have usurped his starting gig. He's a lot of man and I'm sure he'll have a ton of family and friends to watch him suit up one final time in his backyard.
Jamar Travis- Quite frankly, I was shocked to see he was listed as a Rivals 4 star recruit. I thought he had walked on based solely on his level of contribution. For his career he has a total of 7 tackles. Not sure why he was never given an opportunity the last two seasons because what we got from those in front of him was Conference USA level at best.
Travante Stallworth- Another guy that just never could quite make it over the hump. Played a lot of downs for Auburn, but never really flourished or became the play-maker opposite Emory Blake. His move to open the 2011 season against the Utah State defender nearly breaking every bone in his lower extremities was quite a sight, but we just never saw enough of those type plays from Travante.
Some fine young men that will go to battle one last time on their home turf. I wish them the best and thank them all for their service and contributions to Auburn University. I'm sure at times in every one of their careers they thought about quitting, about taking the easy road. But they persevered, they battled through it all and were a part of Auburn football at its pinnacle, and at its hell. It's a shame they'll end walking through the fire, but they'll be better husbands and fathers and businessmen because of the refining that takes place in difficult times. Go out and enjoy your last moment in Jordan-Hare because take it from me...you'll treasure the moments for an eternity. Both the good and bad!