Dec. 16, 2011
Auburn, Ala. -
The Auburn football team worked for 90 minutes on Friday afternoon in shells as the Tigers wrapped up their fifth consecutive practice in preparation for the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve in Atlanta against Virginia.
The Tigers' annual team banquet was held Friday evening at the Auburn Arena, where the Auburn seniors were honored and several awards as voted on by members of the team and coaches were presented.
Recipients of the awards as voted on by the players included Emory Blake (Offensive MVP), Neiko Thorpe (Defensive MVP), Steven Clark (Special Forces MVP), and Philip Lutzenkirchen (Team MVP).
Seven players were presented awards that were voted on by the Auburn coaching staff. Those players were Cody Parkey (Special Forces Points Leader), Reese Dismukes (Outstanding Offensive Newcomer), Jermaine Whitehead (Outstanding Defensive Newcomer), Corey Grant (Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year/Strength and Conditioning M VP), Daniel Pont (Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year), Eltoro Freeman (Academic Eye of the Tiger), and Jared Cooper (Strength and Conditioning MVP).
Auburn offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, who was named the Arkansas State head coach on Wednesday, met with the media following practice and discussed several topics including his three-year stint at Auburn, his new position and the chance to coach his last Auburn game at the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
"The experience here at Auburn has been a great experience for me and my family," Malzahn said. "It's three of the best years of our life, being a part of the Auburn Family and being able to coach these kids. I just really want us to go out on a high note and try to win that eighth game. I'm very close to our players and I just feel it's the right thing to do and I'm very happy that coach Chizik allowed me to do that."
"This (Auburn) is hard place to leave. Probably the last year and half I started getting the itch to be a head coach and just kind of opened up and looked at some opportunities. I said a long time ago, the right place, the right time, and this was definitely the right place and right time at Arkansas State. It was hard to leave these kids and leave these coaches. I'm extremely close to this coaching staff. At the same time I'm very excited to be a head coach at this level and be a head coach at Arkansas State."
Malzahn also talked about his working for Gene Chizik and his friendship with him.
"Gene Chizik's been great to me and I consider him one of my closest friends. The last year and a half we've talked about a lot of different jobs and he's been very patient and great for me and he's happy that I'm a head coach. He wanted me to stay on and coach the bowl game and that meant a lot to me."
Tickets for the Chick-fil-A Bowl are $80 and may be purchased through the Auburn Ticket Office via www.aubtix.com or calling 1-855-AUB-2010. All seating assignments will be based on Tigers Unlimited Priority. For the best seats, fans are strongly encouraged to place orders through the Auburn Athletic Department.
Official Bowl Packages are available through Total Sports Travel, the official Travel management company for Tigers Unlimited and the Auburn Alumni Association. Call 888-367-8781 for your reservation or visit www.totalsportstravel.com.