May 12, 2014
Halfway through last season, not many people would have expected Auburn defensive lineman Nosa Eguae to have much of a shot of playing in the NFL. That was before he moved from defensive end to defensive tackle.
Instead of a defensive end with average athleticism, Eguae became a defensive tackle with high end athleticism. His quickness gave interior offensive linemen fits. He was a major factor in the improvement of Auburn's defense in its run to the Southeastern Conference championship and the BCS Championship Game.
Eguae has worked hard since the season and has his weight up to more than 280 pounds. He looks the part of an NFL defensive lineman. Literally within minutes of the draft ending, he agreed to a free agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons. Don't be surprised if he makes the team.
Sometimes, not having many players drafted means a team doesn't have much NFL talent. Sometimes it means a team just doesn't have much NFL talent in one class.
But one thing should be remembered: Whether a player is drafted high or low or not at all is no indication that he was not a good or even great college football player.
Auburn graduate assistant Kodi Burns is headed to Samford to coach running backs for Pat Sullivan. That's good news for a good guy.
Burns made his mark at Auburn as the epitome of a teammate when he lost the starting quarterback job to Chris Todd in 2009. He told his teammates he was behind Todd and they needed to get behind him, too. He was a valuable graduate assistant last season.
For 14 innings, starting with Saturday's 8-1 victory at Kentucky, Auburn's baseball team played the best I've seen it play this season. With essentially the same lineup that started the season, it looked like the team first-year coach Sunny Golloway and a lot of others expected it to be.
With a 5-0 lead and Keegan Thompson dominating on the mound, it seemed Auburn was ready to at least put itself in position to make it to Hoover for the Southeastern Conference Tournament. But fate intervened.
Thompson took a line drive off his ankle in the fifth and was clearly struggling to start the sixth. Next thing you know, it was 5-4. Despite a remarkable performance by Ryan Tella in his second collegiate pitching performance, Auburn eventually lost 6-5 in 10 innings.
Winning two of three from LSU in the final regular-season series still could get Auburn to Hoover, but with 17 losses already, the Tigers would almost certainly have to win the tournament to move on to an NCAA regional.
That's a disappointing turn of events for a team that had enough talent to do much better.
It is my opinion that much of the rampant talk about college athletes being exploited is a lot of hot air. At the same time, some things certainly need to be changed. One of those things is the transfer rule.
It makes sense that a player must sit out a year after transferring, but it's ridiculous that a coach can bar a player from choosing certain schools. What was accomplished by forcing Corey Grant's family to pay for his first year at Auburn?
Speaking of Corey Grant, I expect him to have a big senior season running and catching. You don't see that kind of speed often.
Auburn's softball team is headed for Minneapolis for an NCAA regional, and I doubt any team looks forward to playing the Tigers.
You don't have to watch for long to recognize why Clint Myers took Arizona State to seven College World Series in eight seasons and won two national championships. He's a heck of a coach. If it doesn't happen this season, once he gets his program in place, he'll be taking Auburn there, too.
Count on it.
After spending three days at the SEC softball tournament in Columbia, I came away most impressed with South Carolina's facilities and with the people in the athletic department. Athletic director Ray Tanner, who built a national powerhouse in baseball, is doing things the right way.
Until next time ...
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: