Aug. 3, 2013
Dee Ford, new number, new leadership role at Auburn (Todd Van Emst photo)
AUBURN, Ala. -- You may have to look twice on opening night to recognize Auburn defensive end>Dee Ford. He has switched from No. 95, a traditional number for a D-end, to No. 30.
Is he a wannabe running back? No, just a defensive end looking for an edge.
"It was more a psychological thing," Ford says.
Ford says 30 was the number he wore at St. Clair County High School when he first made an impact.
"I was the guy to lead the team. Whatever I did, it would affect the whole team, negatively or positively," he said. "I was 'that' guy. I've kind of become that guy now. Rather that have 95 -- he was more of a role player, a guy who made a few plays -- now I'm trying to make that transition to be the guy I was in high school.
"You're a new guy now, and everything you do will affect the team positively and negatively."
Ford is one of Auburn's most heralded players heading into the Aug. 31 opener against Washington State. He was named to second-team All-SEC by the media.
At first, junior wide receiver Trovon Reed didn't want it to happen. He didn't want anybody else to wear the No. 1 on his jersey he's worn since arriving at Auburn in 2010.
When the request to share came, it didn't come from a defensive back like he might have expected. It came from massive freshman defensive tackle>Montravius Adams.
"When I see it on him, it looks like a little strip of tape, he's so big," Reed said. "He came up to me and asked me. Everything in me was saying no."
The number has special meaning to Reed, whose mother died during his junior year at Thibodeaux (La.) High School.
"That number takes me back to when I first started playing football and my mom put me in it," Reed said. "After my mom died, I told my family it doesn't matter where I go, if I can't get No. 1 I'm not going there. Coach (Gene Chizik) made that promise, and he stuck with it."
Adams told Reed the story behind his desire to wear that number, and Reed relented.
"I just had to respect it and told him it's cool," Reed said. "I'm not going to say what it was. It was something personal."
-- Phillip Marshall
Two Auburn players earn degrees
Sanders, from Ariton, earned a degree in human development & family studies. Smith, from Cordova, earned a degree in public administration. Both were back in time to practice on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Gus Malzahn saluted them both.
Carl Lawson gets good review
Two of Auburn's most heralded freshmen also play defensive end. One is>Carl Lawson, who Ford previously said was in overdrive in summer workouts. How about fall workouts?
"He has just one way of playing," Ford said Saturday after the second day of fall practice.
Quarterbacks looking good, too
"They all looked good, every last one of them," Holsey said.
Holsey said he had interception, thanks to a tipped ball.
Coach Gus Malzahn said Marshall and Johnson, the newcomers, felt "more comfortable" in the second day of practice.
"They were able to relax a little bit more and play football."
Malzahn's quick overview of practice: "The attitude and effort was good. The pace was better."
-- Charles Goldberg
When pads go on, intensity goes up
Auburn's football players will wear shells when they go to practice Sunday afternoon, meaning they'll have on helmets and shoulder pads. The first two days, as mandated by NCAA rules, practices were in shorts and helmets without pads.
That means the intensity will go up several notches as well. It will go up several more notches when full pads go on Tuesday.
"We'll have shoulder pads on tomorrow," junior center Reese Dismukes said with a smile as he left the practice field. "It'll be a lot different."
-- Phillip Marshall
Reed reaches out to friend and teammate
When fellow wide receiver Quan Bray was at his time of great need, Reed reached out to him. Bray lost his mother when she was murdered in the summer of 2011.
"I know what it's like," Reed said. "Quan was in a situation just like I was. He wasn't really close with his dad. The only thing he had was his mom. I was the same way growing up. When my mom died, I just wanted to give up football and everything. Quan was basically the same way. He was having all kinds of problems."
Reed said he told Quan Bray the hard truth.
"I just sat him down and talked to him," Reed said. "I said `What would your mom want?' ... I just had to sit down with him and have a grown-man talk. I made him understand it's real life. She's gone. She's not on vacation. She's not coming back. Are you going to cry about it all the time or step up and be a man for your little brother. He told me he was going to step up and be a man, and I'm holding him accountable every day."
-- Phillip Marshall