Only 33 short days until Auburn football!
Today we honor a notable number 33; Will Hastings.
The Little Rock, Arkansas native went to Pulaski Academy before arriving on Auburn’s campus in the fall of 2015.
Hastings tallied 2,040 receiving yards in his high school senior season, becoming just the second receiver in state history to gain 2,000 yards in a season.
Hastings appeared in two games in 2015 and had one kickoff against LSU. The kicker-turned-wide receiver appeared in 11 games in 2016. The first touchdown of his career came on a 29-yard catch against Arkansas State. Six of 11 catches in 2016 gained first downs.
2017 will be the junior season for Will Hastings.
War Eagle Will!
Day three of SEC Media Days featured Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky and Texas A&M. Here is what stuck out to me throughout the day.
One word to describe Alabama’s media day: impressive. The 2016 SEC Champions not only handled themselves with confidence but were articulate as well. Often times the personality of the head coach will show itself in the players, and Alabama was no exception to the rule.
Senior offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman talked about how Alabama has been able to maintain their level of success.
“There’s a lot of hard competitors on our team, and with Coach Saban, we focus on the process,” Bozeman said. “We push every day and we try to be 1-0 at the end of every week. We try to do things that other people don’t want to do or can’t do.”
“We just push it, break down barriers and knock down walls,” Bozeman said.
Nick Saban echoed the same sentiment when talking about their loss in the national championship last January.
“We’re always trying to self-assess to see what we need to do to get better,” Saban said. “I want to learn. I don’t want to waste a failure.”
It’s about the fundamentals and doing things the right way for Saban and the Crimson Tide. Calvin Ridley spoke about what was different about this upcoming year’s Tide team.
“Coach Saban preaches leadership, and the leadership on this team is pretty good,” Ridley said. “We have some guys who are buying in right away, and now we have to get the younger guys to buy in and we will be a good team.”
Quarterback Drew Locke feels like he is an underrated quarterback in the SEC. Despite only having won four games last season, Locke believes he is as good as anyone in the conference.
“Numbers aren’t enough,” Locke said. “You need to produce and win football games but I do believe that I have all the skills and all the same things that anyone else does in this conference if not better.”
Head Coach Barry Odom believes that Locke has a chance to be a “special player” at the quarterback position. Nonetheless, he wants to see him improve in certain areas of his game as well.
“I want him to know he doesn’t have to get it all in one throw, and he understands that,” Odom said. “We’ve got to become more consistent as an offense and that starts with him as well.”
Locke threw for 3,399 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season.
The theme for Kentucky this offseason has been the question of if they are ready to compete for the SEC East crown. Day three was no different.
Head coach Mark Stoops was asked how close they are to contending.
“You never know,” Stoops said. “You guys covered this league for a while. I remember a few years back, I believe the team that won both sides didn’t win a league game the year before.”
Stoops isn’t worried about the rest of the league. He is concerned with the preparation of his team alone.
“We are not concerned about the rest of the league,” Stoops said. “I know this about the league, the league’s not backing up. Nobody we’re playing is backing up. We’re certainly not backing up.”
“We’re worried about us getting better to put us in a position to contend each and every week,” Stoops said.
Kentucky finished 2016 with a 7-6 record and a TaxSlayer Bowl defeat to Georgia Tech. Their bowl appearance last season was their first since 2010. The Wildcats return 17 starters from their 2016 squad.
Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M came into the day with a lot of the focus on his job security. Having won eight games for three straight years and not quite meeting expectations in those seasons, Sumlin has one of the hotter seats in the SEC. According to him, that won’t affect the way he coaches his team.
“And so whatever’s said, whatever the conversation, whatever’s written, it’s not going to affect how I do my job,” Sumlin said, “And it’s not going to affect my day-to-day operation.”
Texas A&M Athletic Director Scott Woodard made comments on “The Paul Finebaum Show” while attending the SEC spring meetings in Florida that put Sumlin on the hot seat.
“Coach Sumlin knows he has to win,” Woodard said. “He has to win this year. He has to do better than he has done in the past.”
The quarterback situation is unique for Texas A&M heading into this season as it is clearly a decision between experience or potential. Jake Hubenak returns to compete with redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Starkel and freshman quarterback Kellen Mond.
Sumlin was asked about the quarterback situation heading into camp.
“Not really a front-runner right now,” Sumlin said. “I think I know that all three guys are really capable.”
Only 73 short days until Auburn football!
Today we honor a notable number 73; Lee Ziemba.
The Rogers, Arkansas native went to Rogers High School before arriving on Auburn’s campus in the fall of 2007. Ziemba holds the Auburn record for consecutive starts at 52 as he started every game of his career. Ziemba became the sixth lineman in AU history to win the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 2010. Ziemba was a staple on the Auburn offensive line throughout his career and a big part of the offense that became the first AU team to ever rush for 300 yards or more in six straight SEC games during the 2010 season. He was a member of the 2010 SEC Champion and 2010 National Champion Auburn team.
Following his graduation from Auburn, Ziemba was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
War Eagle Lee!
We are now 78 days away from kickoff to the 2017 Auburn football season and today we honor current Auburn Tiger, #78 Darius James. The Killeen, Texas native attended Harker Heights High School and was selected to play in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game. In 2014, James began his college career playing for the University of Texas and competed in 6 games, but decided to transfer to Auburn after the season. James began his Auburn career in 2016 and played in all 13 games. He became the starting left tackle for the last 8 games of the season. War Eagle Darius!
Nick Fairley was a staple in the Auburn defense as soon as he arrived in 2009. He appeared in 13 games with two starts including a start versus Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. Fairley was a part of Auburn’s 2010 National Championship team where he played alongside Cam Newton. During that season he won the Lombardi Award, Associated Press SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week four times during the season. Fairley started in all 14 games and finished with 60 tackles with 24.0 TFL’s and 11.5 sacks. He was the first player since Sen’Derrick Marks in 2007 to have fumble recovery and INT in a game. He also became the second player in school history to win the Lombardi Award after his position coach, Tracy Rocker who won the award in 1988. His defensive efforts in the National Championship earned him defensive MVP honors.
Four days after the BCS National Championship, Fairley entered the 2011 NFL Draft. He was selected 13th overall by the Detroit Lions and signed a 4-year contract with the team. He played for the ST. Louis Rams for one year before signing a contract with the New Orleans Saints. He recorded career-highs in sacks and tackles in 2016 and signed a 4-year extension with the Saints this off-season.
On today’s edition of the countdown to kickoff, we’re featuring former basketball and football player for the Auburn Tigers, Reid Brooks. Brooks competed on the scout teams for Auburn during the 2012 season. Prior to sporting a football jersey, Brooks played basketball at Auburn from 2006-08 under coach Jeff Lebo. He majored in chemical engineering and was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes during his time at the university.
Hailing from Dothan, Alabama, Brooks was named to the Dothan Eagle Super 12 honorable mention in high school as well as honorable mention all-state as a junior and senior. He also lettered in basketball during his career.
Brooks is now an offshore support engineer for Shell in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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The Drive will be ON LOCATION this Thursday at Piccolo – inside The Hotel at Auburn University – with a special recap of National Signing Day.
Bill Cameron be joined by Bryan Matthews of Auburn Sports.com and Jason Caldwell of AUTigers.com to break down the day, analyze who is going where and the inside the scoop on how the Tigers, Tide and the rest of the SEC fared.
Make plans to join Bill and the crew this Thursday for a Signing Day Recap edition of The Drive and enjoy the special “Pints & Pies” – build your own 10-inch pizza for $10….. along with Draft Beer Pints, $2 domestic and $5 craft.
That’s The Drive….live from Piccolo inside The Hotel at Auburn University this Thursday from 4 until 6.