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'Very confident in what I can do' - Eli Stove eager to build on freshman success
Eli Stove's 23 receptions in 2016 were the sixth most by a freshman in Auburn history.

Aug. 19, 2017

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - Eli Stove played a starring role in the third longest run by a freshman in Auburn history.

"It was almost like a movie to me," Stove said of his 78-yard jet sweep scamper on the first play of Auburn's 56-3 win over Arkansas last year. "I still remember getting the ball and seeing open field. In practice, it's not always going to be there. It worked perfectly then. Good blocking, executed everything well."

Stove made 23 receptions for 224 yards in 2016, the sixth most catches all-time for an Auburn freshman.

"I feel very confident in what I can do," Stove said. "I know all of the plays in and out, so that helps me. I can help everybody else who plays my position, too."

Stove seeks to share the knowledge he gained in his first SEC season with one of those players who shares his position, freshman Noah Igbinoghene.

"We're just alike," Stove said. "Both shifty players. We do a lot of rotating. He'll be a good player. A great player at Auburn."

Stove hopes to benefit from Auburn's intent to balance the offense by committing to a vertical passing game under starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

"Good quarterback," Stove said. "He's confident in what he's doing. Throws the ball well. I like a guy who can throw the deep ball well."

'The transition has been tremendous'

<em> Casey Dunn, an All-America center at Jacksonville State, provides depth on Auburn's offensive line.</em>

Casey Dunn, an All-America center at Jacksonville State, provides depth on Auburn's offensive line.

Offensive linemen Wilson Bell and Casey Dunn both joined Auburn's program this year as graduate transfers.

"When I made the transition, I got a chance to talk to Coach Hand on my visit," said Bell, who started 18 games at Florida State. "He broke down how he was going to coach me and what he was going to do to help me get to the next level and I believed it. Ever since I've been here, he's done that.

"The transition has been tremendous. The guys have lifted me up. I feel like I've been here four years with these guys. I love this school. I'm glad I got a chance to come back."

Dunn, an All-America center at Jacksonville State, wanted the challenge of playing in the Southeastern Conference.

"I'm loving it," Dunn said. "It's a great transition coming from FCS, pushing yourself and growing and being able to compete at the highest level of college football, it's been great.

"Competition is great, too. Like Coach Hand said the other day, having competition just makes everybody better. We're all embracing it."

'A good day'

Auburn conducted its third preseason scrimmage Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium with an emphasis on special teams and two-minute situations.

"It's kind of that final scrimmage to show some of those guys on the border right there. Are they ready to take the next step to help our team or do they need a little more time?" Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "It was a really good day for that."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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