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Auburn notebook August 23

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Auburn notebook

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Huntsville Times

Standout freshman Fannin moves to receiver

AUBURN - Mario Fannin, considered one of the jewels of Auburn's freshman class, became a wide receiver Tuesday.

Fannin, 5-foot-11 and 207 pounds from Lovejoy High School in Hampton, Ga., has earned consistent praise for his work at running back throughout preseason camp. But there is little playing time available at running back. There could be some at wide receiver.

"We felt like it was time to get it done," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said after Tuesday morning's practice. "He looked good catching the ball. He just doesn't know what he's doing a lot."

Fannin said he welcomed the move.

"Basically, it's just a way for me to get on the field faster and help the team," Fannin said. "I told the coaches when I got here that I just wanted to help the team."

One who has been impressed with Fannin from the start is senior wide receiver Courtney Taylor. Very impressed.

"He's probably one of the best athletes I've seen since I've been here," Taylor said. "Before he leaves Auburn, he's going to end up playing everything. He's going to be the next Reggie Bush. Mark it down."

Return of the injured: When Auburn returned to the practice field Tuesday after an off day, the injury list had shrunk.

Taylor (knee), linebackers Will Herring (hamstring) and Merrill Johnson (foot), safety Zach Etheridge (hip pointer) and offensive linemen Tyronne Green (flu) and Leon Hart (abdominal strain) all returned to full-speed practice.

Linebacker Steve Gandy, offensive lineman Oscar Gonzalez and defensive end Darrell Roseman are still out and will miss the first game.

Tuberville said the Tigers had yet another physical practice Tuesday, and he came away pleased.

"It was a little cooler and we were able to keep their attention a lot longer," Tuberville said. "... We had good concentration, good leadership. It was probably one of the best we've had."

Depth chart coming: Numerous players were told in meetings with coaches Tuesday that they will be redshirted. Tuberville said the coaches will try to produce a two-deep depth chart by late in the week. He said there will be another physical practice today and work on preparation for the Sept. 2 opener against Washington State will probably begin Thursday.

Furthermore: Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said he expected Etheridge and linebacker Craig Stevens, both true freshmen, to play in the season-opener. ... After announcing Fannin's move, Tuberville said no other position changes are immediately planned ... Freshman Mike Berry practiced at left tackle Tuesday and has now worked at every position on the offensive line since the start of camp.

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