Tiger Tight End Excited About Upcoming Season

<b>Tiger Ticket</b>

An Auburn tight end discusses his status with the 2003 Tigers and the offense in general.

Auburn, Ala.--With one college season and two spring trainings under his belt, Cooper Wallace has moved himself into position to be a key member of the 2003 Auburn football team.

The six-foot-four, 255-pound tight end from Nashville, Tenn., was named an SEC All-Freshman last year by the league's coaches despite having to share playing time with senior Lorenzo Diamond and junior Robert Johnson. Both are now trying to make NFL teams and Wallace will enter the coming season as the man at tight end.

"It is fun," Wallace says about being the first stringer. "I enjoyed last year a lot. It was good to learn everything. I think I am ready to do it as a starter. I am looking forward to the season."

Wallace played in 13 games last season, including one in an emergency role as a fullback for Auburn's victory over Alabama when injuries to the running backs forced the coaches to line up the tight end at a position he had played only in high school. Wallace's blocks were a key to Auburn's victory in Tuscaloosa. He caught eight passes for 123 yards and scored two touchdowns last season. Those numbers should improve significantly as a redshirt sophomore.

As a preview of coming attractions, Wallace caught four passes for 35 yards in the spring game. The wrapup of spring drills was a better show for the offense as a whole than the major scrimmage three days earlier in which the defense held the upper hand. "I think by far we were better than during the last scrimmage," Wallace says about the offense's A-Day performance.

Cooper Wallace

"I don't think the offense is where it needs to be for us to be the type of team we want to be this year, but I feel as a whole the offense did better than we have done since I have been here," he says. "I know we had a lapse in the Wednesday scrimmage. That can happen and I think we came back from that pretty strong. I have been happy with the offense this spring."

Wallace and the other receivers will have the luxury of catching balls from an experienced quarterback. Jason Campbell, a redshirt junior, had a good spring throwing the football, something that is expected to carry over to the regular season. "I think we are starting to feel it a little bit," he says. "I hadn't caught that many balls up until A-Day. I had mostly been blocking. I think Jason and I have our timing down pretty good and now we have three or four months to get it even better."

New offensive coordinator Hugh Nall says that he believes the tight ends will be a very important part of the offense. Wallace says that Nall informed the entire offensive unit that there are high expectations for the group in 2003. "Coach Nall told us that he doesn't believe in having a bad day," Wallace says. "We only have 12 or 13 games next year and we don't have time to have a bad day. We have got to get mentally strong this summer and get our minds ready so we can come out strong."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Wallace, who played tight end, linebacker and running back in addition to tight end at state champion Christ Presbyterian in Nashville, has steadily added size and strength since arriving on campus. He is still pushing to get bigger and stronger. "I am 6-4, 255 now and I want to be 260 this season," he says. "I need to get stronger in the upper body and squat more--all that good stuff."


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