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Coaches keep McCain moving

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Coaches keep McCain moving

Saturday, August 26, 2006


News staff writer

AUBURN - You couldn't blame Andrew McCain if he justgot up and ran from the next Auburn assistant coach who wondered if he had a minute to talk.

It seems like every time that happens, he winds up playing a different position.

The former tight end who played defensive end last year, and had a sack against Ole Miss to prove it, finds himself as an offensive tackle this season in what increasingly is becoming a career with more than a few twists and turns.

The former Briarwood Christian standout was one of only three true freshmen who played enough to be a sophomore this season, but he's not supposed to play a down this year. He's going to redshirt as a sophomore, which rarely happens.

McCain just laughs at the number of times he's been traded and the number of times coaches have sold him on the idea of changing positions.

"`Sold' is a funny word, but it really is true. Everybody is giving you a million-and-one reasons why you should play on this side of the ball, or that side of the ball, or at this position, or that position," McCain said. "For me, it was trying to find a situation that would work out for me and help the team the most. Offensive tackle is what I've fallen into."

Well, in practice, anyway.

Auburn coaches want McCain to spend the season eating. He's checking in these days at 276 pounds, up from the 245 he was down to just a couple of months ago after a tonsillectomy.

The coaches want him in the 290s by spring. McCain says he'll happily oblige. :lol:

He's happily obliged Auburn coaches before. He was one of three tight ends in last year's recruiting class, but defensive line coach Don Dunn snatched him from that position to round out his depth chart. McCain was able to do more than that. He was playing in the defensive line by the third game of the season. He traveled to every away game, appeared in five games in all and was set to return to the defense this spring.

Until offensive line coach Hugh Nall snatched him for one of his own.

"We talked to him about it and said. `Hey look, we think you have a lot of potential,'" Nall said. "And he does have a lot potential in the offensive line."

The offensive line seemed to be the selling point.

"The way he's built, it's just tough to play defensive line," Nall said. "He's built to play offensive line, and I think he finally saw the writing on the wall."

Nall's salesmanship didn't stop there. He convinced McCain to redshirt as a sophomore.

McCain is smart enough to make the move, whether using his standing as the Auburn freshman football player with the highest grade point average last year, or as the guy who has done his homework about playing time in the future.

He knows Auburn will start four seniors in the offensive line this year, and that means lots of opportunities next season. :o

"As an athlete in college, you're always doing the math on that: Who's going to be here, how long, when they're leaving," McCain said. "It's good to know, because in a year or so they're going to be out of here and I can do my thing; but until then I can learn from them and gain experience."

But he came as a tight end. Unfortunately for him, so did Tommy Trott and Gabe McKenzie, two more accomplished receivers.

"I came in thinking I'm better than both of these guys. It's your job as an athlete to think that," McCain said. "It just turned out where each of us had our own thing: You saw Trott out there catching balls left and right; and you saw Gabe catching the ball and making great blocks; and it turned out tight end wasn't the right position for me. When I came I didn't know if it was Trott who was going to be moved to slot receiver; or Gabe was going to defensive end; or that I was going to defensive end or offensive tackle."

Trott and McKenzie didn't move. McCain, who played mostly defensive end and defensive tackle at Briarwood anyway, got out of their way.

And, in one of those odd twists, it will be Trott and McKenzie playing this year and McCain taking a redshirt year.

"It is a little odd, and frustrating. You want to say, `I already paid my dues' but it's just one of those things that happens," McCain said. "Ultimately, I'll be playing with the guys I signed with."

And those Auburn assistant coaches?

"It's all good. Coach Nall approached me with a very business-like attitude and he left the ultimate decision up to me," McCain said. "I talked to the defensive coaches and I talked to my parents. I just felt like it was the move for me."

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