By: Jeff Shearer
Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin
AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn kicked off preseason practice Friday with veterans working in the morning and newcomers going in the evening, 29 days before the Tigers host Mercer Sept. 3 in the season opener.
“What we do in training camp is going to be extremely important to our success for the rest of the season,” said second-year head coach Bryan Harsinoutlining Auburn’s daily schedule that starts at 6 am and wraps up with curfew at 10:45 pm
“The beauty of playing is you get to settle the score in the arena,” Harsin said. “All this work that we’re doing, and what our guys have been doing since January, it’s all going to come together and hopefully that shows up on Sept. 3.”
Auburn’s coordinators are new to their roles, but they’re not new to Auburn or Harsin, with defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding and offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau earning promotions after serving as position coaches last season.
“We talk about competition,” said Schmedding, who coached Auburn’s linebackers in 2021. “Guys have to earn it every single day. We don’t want to seek comfort in our past. You’ve got to show up ready to work. “
“I’m excited about where we are and where we’re going,” said Kiesau, who coached Auburn’s receivers last season. “When you walk on that field, you are competing because camp is short. We don’t have time to ease it.”
After Friday’s first practice, four veteran players spoke to reporters, with fifth-year receiver shedrick jackson describing his leadership role.
“I’m grateful for it and I just love it,” said Jackson, Auburn’s leading returning receiver with 50 career catches for 657 yards.
lineman offensive Austin Troxell returns for his sixth season after starting at tackle in 2021.
“We’re building something special here and I wanted to be a part of that,” Troxell said. “We’re a confident group. We have a lot of depth. There’s a lot of things we need to work on. We’re building the camaraderie of the unit and we’re going to get better every day.”
Linebacker Owen Pappoe returns for his senior season after an injury limited him to five games last year.
“It’s given me a whole new appreciation for the game and it makes me want to go harder than I ever have before,” said Pappoe, a captain in 2021. “We’re going into the season with a chip on our shoulder. Things feel different this year.”
“I feel like this team can go so far and do so much,” said junior defensive lineman Colby Wooden, who plans to graduate in December. “We owe it to Auburn. I want to go out with a bang.”
While Auburn returns several starters, Harsin made it clear that every position features competition.
“I’m proud of our guys for the work they’ve put in,” Harsin said. “I’m excited about this squad. We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of things to prove. Everybody on this team is going to help us win.
“All of these guys going through this for three, four or five years, there’s a reason why when they leave here they’re going to be successful. They’re not afraid to grind, they know how to work and they can push themselves .”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer