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AUBURN REPORT: Browder expected to play big

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AUBURN REPORT: Browder expected to play big

By Jay G. Tate

Montgomery Advertiser

AUBURN -- Chris Browder received a non-nonsense edict from the Auburn coaching staff during the offseason.

Get larger. Now. The senior defensive lineman needed to move from end to tackle, where the biggest of the big boys bang. So Browder added 20 pounds. He accepted his new role.

Now this: Browder has been moved back to end.

"He's a monster now," fellow end Quentin Groves said. "He's gotten all big, and he looks just as fast as before. I don't see how people are going to stop him. I'm glad that's not my job."

Browder made the initial shift to tackle because of depth problems in the middle. Redshirt freshman Sen'Derrick Marks was the only true defensive tackle on the roster, and Auburn was desperate for help.

It came in the form of a boosted Browder.

Though Browder drew praise from coaches during two-a-days, sophomore Pat Sims emerged as a playmaker at tackle. Suddenly Browder wasn't needed as a fill-in.

So he migrated back to end 10 days ago.

He's happy.

"I really like being back at the strong side. I think that's where I was meant to be," said Browder, who weighed in at 271 Thursday morning. "I really like it over there. Everything's looking good."

End is a position that rewards speed.

Browder still has that.

When he reverted to his old spot at strong-side end, Browder wasted little time re-establishing himself. Incumbent starter Marquies Gunn has been slowed by a leg injury for nearly two weeks.

:o Coaches say Browder has played the best ball of his career during the past two weeks. He now is ahead of Gunn on the depth chart. :o

"He looks great to me," defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. "He's a big, wide body. It's been a good move for him and us."

The move hasn't always been so comfortable.

Browder said adding the weight was fun -- "I really like that Chinese buffet out in Opelika," he said - but his body didn't enjoy the calorie binge. His lower body felt the difference during two-a-days.

Aches became the norm.

"Sometimes my back would be hurting, my shins would be hurting, my feet would be hurting," Browder said. "We just have to get used to it."

Offenses will have their own troubles with Browder.

At 270 pounds, he'll be one of the biggest ends in the Southeastern Conference this season. The added size and a desire to start as a senior has turned Browder into one of the team's biggest fall-camp surprises.

"He looks like an NFL guy to me now," Groves said. "He's going to be rich someday."

Seeing red

Auburn's position coaches held meetings with newcomers on Wednesday to discuss their personnel plans for the coming season.

Most players were encouraged to redshirt.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said six true freshmen have a chance to play this season. The group includes: wideout Tim Hawthorne, offensive lineman Mike Berry, linebacker Craig Stevens, safety Zac Etheridge and defensive tackles Jermarcus Ricks and Mike Blanc.

"Some of those guys might be up there all year," Tuberville said. "The ball is still in their court."

Mario Fannin, who recently moved from tailback to wideout, played with the varsity groups on Thursday. Offensive coordinator Al Borges said Fannin will stay there because the position switch requires more intense tutoring.

"If we put him down with the scouts, he's never going to learn the position," Borges said.

Another high-profile signee in limbo is tailback Ben Tate, who enrolled in January and played well during spring drills.

"The problem with Ben is we have a lot of players at his position," Borges said. "That can change with a snap of the fingers. Right now, how much we plan to play him, we'll know better in about a week. We'll see where we are physically and what we want to do."

Rose headed for redshirt

Rose is in: Tuberville said Thursday that wideout Alex Rose has been cleared by the NCAA.

Still, it's unclear if Rose will be a full or partial qualifier.

"All I was told was that he was on his way and would be in school tomorrow. We'll see what his status is," Tuberville said. " I'm just glad he's in school. He'll redshirt anyway."

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