July 25, 2008
AUBURN, Ala. -
Auburn was picked to win the SEC Western Division title and an SEC-leading nine Tigers were picked to the Preseason All-SEC team in voting by the league's media at the 2008 SEC Media Days, which concluded Friday.
Of the 70 members of the media who voted, Auburn was named first place in the West on 48 ballots, while LSU received 21 first place votes and Ole Miss 1. In voting for the overall SEC champion, Florida was named SEC Champion on 36 ballots, Georgia on 18, Auburn 13 and LSU, Tennessee and Ole Miss one each.
Meanwhile, junior defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and sophomore punter Ryan Shoemaker were named to the Preseason All-SEC first team. The Tigers had seven second-team selections, including offensive linemen Tyronne Green and Lee Ziemba, running back Ben Tate, defensive end Antonio Coleman, linebacker Tray Blackmon, defensive back Jerraud Powers and kicker Wes Bryum.
Auburn's nine All-SEC selections were one more than LSU, and no other team had more than five representatives on the teams.
Marks enters his junior season having started 26 consecutive games on the defensive line. He has collected 82 career tackles including 20 for losses and 5.5 sacks. He has been named to the Outland and Nagurski Trophy watch lists for this season and was a Playboy Preseason All-American.
Shoemaker earned second-team All-SEC honors by the Associated Press as a freshman after ranking second in the conference and 16th nationally with an average of 42.4 yards per punt. He placed 16 of his 49 punts inside the 20-yard line and had at least one punt of 50 yards in nine of his 12 games played.
Green started all 13 games at guard last season and was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week after Auburn's victory over Vanderbilt. He received Auburn's Ken Rice Award following the season as the team's best blocking lineman.
Ziemba was named to numerous freshman All-America teams following the 2007 season after starting all 13 games at tackle. He became the first true freshman to start on the offensive line in a season opener during the Tommy Tuberville era.
Tate led Auburn in rushing yards (903), attempts (202), all-purpose yardage (83.3 yards per game) and rushing touchdowns (eight) in 2007 while becoming the 33rd player in Auburn history to amass 1,000 career rushing yards. He has three career 100-yard rushing games and currently ranks 27th on the Tigers' career rushing list with 1,295 yards.
Coleman ranked fourth in the SEC in tackles for loss (18.5) and tied for fifth in sacks (8.5) last year despite making just eight starts. He finished with 38 total tackles and was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week following Auburn's victory over Ole Miss after collecting three tackles for loss including a pair of quarterback sacks.
Blackmon started the last seven games in 2007, and ended the year with 45 tackles (26 solo, 19 assists) in just nine games played. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week following Auburn's victory at Arkansas after collecting a career-high nine tackles, which he later matched in a win over Ole Miss.
Powers started all 13 games at cornerback in 2007 and was fourth on the team with 63 tackles (47 solo, 16 assists). He shared the team lead with four interceptions and added eight pass break-ups, and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after recording seven tackles during a victory at Florida. Following the season he was awarded Auburn's Zeke Smith Award as the team's Defensive Player of the Year.
Byrum led Auburn in scoring with 86 points as a freshman and tied for fifth in the SEC in field goal percentage (73.9) and field goals made (17). He made two game-winning kicks on the road last year, winning games at Florida and Arkansas with field goals in the closing seconds. His 43-yarder to beat Florida as time expired earned him SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Auburn will open the 2008 season Aug. 30 against Louisiana-Monroe at 6 p.m. CT.