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I'm tired of losing:' Tigers draw motivation from 'tough' 2021 finish

Nathan King
3-4 minutes


QBs and DLs drill on Opening Day of Auburn Football Practice


AUBURN, Alabama — The 2021 season was a first for Colby Wooden — and not one he ever wanted to experience.

“I've never in my life had a losing record,” Wooden said on the first day of preseason practices Friday.

Wooden hasn’t exactly experienced immense success with the Auburn program yet. He was a seldom-utilized true freshman on the 2019 team that went 9-3 in the regular season and beat Alabama. But since emerging as a leader along the defensive front, the Tigers’ on-field results have been less than optimal.

Wooden is likely entering his final college season after opting not to declare for the NFL draft this past winter. He, of course, has designs on being a highly rated draft pick this time around. But the kind of impact he has on Auburn’s 2022 success is paramount.

“That was a tough pill to swallow,” Wooden said of last season. “So I had to go back to the drawing board: 'OK, what can I do better to get myself better, not only for draft purposes but as far as the team?' I feel like this team can go so far and do so much. We owe it to Auburn.”

The combination of last year’s sour finish and the dramatics of the early offseason inquiry into Bryan Harsin — which left the entire program in limbo for a week — is now serving to create unity for the squad, as Auburn is entering its first weekend of preseason practices.

“I graduate in December, so I kind of want to go out with a bang,” Wooden said. “Started with Owen (Pappoe) and Derick (Hall) and Luke (Deal), all the other guys that came in with me. And we've just got to finish the deal. That's basically it. Finish the deal."

Hall, a senior edge rusher who tied for third in the conference in sacks last season, echoed similar sentiments as an SEC Media Days representative last month.

“Why would I leave and miss out on the college experience?" Hall said. "You never get that back. Just being able to play with my brothers one more time. ... I love Auburn, and Auburn loves me back, for sure. Everybody takes care of me. … I wanted to give back to them one more time. If I had to make the decision again, I’d definitely still come back for 2022.”

While the offense may be working out some kinks in the early season, Auburn's defense is littered with veteran pieces on each level. Pappoe knows it's on him, a 2021 team captain, and other experienced Tigers to set the tone for a bounce-back campaign — one in which external expectations are low, with Auburn picked to finish last the SEC West in the preseason media poll.

“Me, personally, I’m tired of losing, and that’s the message we’ve all been preaching to the team,” Pappoe said. “We want to come out and make a difference this year, so we’re going into this season with a chip on our shoulder. I can’t wait to see what happens, man.

“Things feel different this year, for real.”

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 I've been an Auburn fan since the '70s, even before I graduated from AU, and IMO no college football program gets more media mileage from losses & self inflicted failure and less from wins and feel good stories than AU - decade after decade. We have to create those positive slant tid bits re Auburn football b/c we'll certainly hear about the botched this & that.

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