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A busy day at Auburn: Freshmen, graduation and practice
Aug. 2, 2014

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Gus Malzahn sports a sporty look at Auburn's practice Saturday

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- They're shuffling offensive linemen around at Auburn in the early days of fall practice, just to give them a looksee over here or over there, and because projected starter Alex Kozan will miss the season following back surgery. 

Auburn moved players around in the spring, too, and now have another candidate for playing time.  Six-foot-6, 290 Braden Smith of Olathe, Kansas, has turned some heads in the early going. 

"He's super strong, there's no doubt about that," coach Gus Malzahn said after Saturday's practice. "He is athletic, he moves well, he's got light feet for such a big guy. 

"It's one of those deals that when we get shoulder pads on him, we'll see what he can do. He's a guy in the next two weeks we're going to give him a shot and see if he can get in the mix. As a freshman, that's hard to do in our league, but he does have the physical ability to do it." 

Auburn aggressively recruited the four-star Smith after Greg Robinson decided to leave early for the NFL. 

Other notes from Malzahn after the second day of fall practice… 

Malzahn began his post-practice press conference congratulating Chad Slade and Jermaine Whitehead, both of whom went through graduation ceremonies Friday 

"I'm very excited for those guys," Malzahn said. "I was here when they got here at Auburn, I watched them grow up through the process. They both have great families, so it was a big day for them." 

Freshman quarterback Sean White is being brought along slowly by offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. 

"Coach Lashlee has given him a lot of reps to give him a chance to get a base understanding of our offense because there's so much that has to do with sideline communication, getting the information to everybody, and the play," Malzahn said. "He's a guy who really throws it well, he throws the ball on time. The next two weeks I know Coach Lashlee is looking forward to seeing how he reacts." 

Malzahn said Saturday's practice went well. 

"The one thing I was pleased with was our tempo, our effort," he said. "I really think we improved from yesterday, not that yesterday was what I'd consider a bad day. I just thought it was an average day. Today, I really felt good about the guys flying around." 

Auburn will wear shoulder pads for the first time Sunday. 

"That will be good for us with the young guys. We've got a lot of good information about the older guys, but you put shoulder pads on and usually your evaluation is a little easier." 

Receivers coach Dameyune Craig is on the field coaching 'em up -- while wearing a boot on his left foot after having Achilles surgery over the summer. Malzahn is helping with the slot receivers. 

"I always want to coach, anyway, and it gives me a great excuse to start working with the inside receivers and I'll do that throughout fall camp and help with that, at least until we get off to a good start foundation-wise," Malzahn said. ".t's always good for me. I enjoy the coaching part."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter:
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