AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn players know when they arrive on campus for preseason camp that their days will revolve around football. The exciting time signals the approach of the season, but it’s also one of the most demanding phases of the year.
“It’s definitely a grind mentally and physically, but it’s something that you look forward to all summer,” said junior holder Tyler Stovall, who was awarded a scholarship Friday. “You get excited to get back out there and play with your brothers, and just get back out on the field so it’s worth it in the long run, but it is a grind. You just have to stay focused and know what the end prize is.”
For many, the most challenging part is the nonstop schedule. Players practice (don’t forget two-a-days) but their hours are filled with meetings, film sessions, training room visits and — when they find a spare moment or rare off day — rest. Another clear test is the physical toll the game takes. Younger players and transfers arguably have an even tougher experience, learning new schemes while adjusting to the pace and level of SEC football.
Eventually, the Tigers learn to navigate the preseason slog. Players learn the schedule. They shuffle in and out of the training facility to soak in cold tubs and take advantage of different methods of recovery. Auburn players share laughs in meeting rooms and bond through team activities (this year’s movie night was Remember the Titans).
For scrimmages, Auburn takes the field in Jordan-Hare Stadium, a transition that electrifies everyone and helps younger players lock in.
“Being in stadium gets juices flowing,” wide receiver Stanton Truitt said. “It does, especially as you get closer to the first game. You see that it’s real. It’s almost time. Just take advantage, never take a play off when you’re in the stadium. It means a lot.”
Veteran leaders are another key to enduring camp. They offer advice and provide support for younger players. “I feel like myself it’s a different situation being older where I’m 26,” said Stovall, who spent four years playing minor league baseball before joining Auburn. “I like to be there for the guys and I let them know up front if there’s something they’re struggling with or something that you’re having a hard time with, just given my background I love to be there for them and have open hands for them and open for any questions they may need as a young person coming in.”
At the end of the day, Auburn players know what is important and realize that the workload will remain intense when the season begins on Sept. 3.
“Yeah, it’s been a grind,” Truitt said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though. Just being out there trying to get ready. This is the time where we see who’s really together and where we gel as a team.”