News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall, center, says he is encouraged by the intensity his players have shown during practice. The team dons pads Monday.
AP photo by Todd Van Emst
Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall, center, says he is encouraged by the intensity his players have shown during practice. The team dons pads Monday.



For the first full day of practice, Alabama coach Nick Saban had the varsity team practice at 3 p.m. and the freshmen at 7:30 p.m.

But that didn't mean that each group was mutually exclusive.

Sophomore running back Roy Upchurch and sophomore linebacker Prince Hall each practiced with the freshmen.

Saban and players were not available for comment after both practices.

? According to school press release, Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs Johnny Williams is stepping down and moving into the private sector.

A former athletic director at Troy, Williams led the Trojans from Division I-AA to Division I.

  • Alabama will be hosting its annual fan day Sunday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Fans will be able to watch the Crimson Tide practice from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The team will then have an autograph session starting at 4:45 p.m. in the south end zone.

    Because of construction, the upper level of Bryant-Denny will be closed.

    Josh Cooper, Daily Sports Writer


    AUBURN — Offensive line coach Hugh Nall was impressed with his inexperienced squad after Auburn's first practice Thursday.

    "I saw some good things assignment wise. I thought the intensity was good," Nall said. "I thought that they were sharp and came off the ball."

    Nall noted that there's "not going to be anything known" until Monday, when the Tigers make their debut in pads. Auburn lost four of five starting offensive linemen to graduation.

    Coach Tommy Tuberville said last week that the line may be the team's weakest link early, but it could become an area of strength by midseason or earlier.

    Center Jason Bosley agrees after seeing his teammates practice Thursday. He expects the offensive line to be strong after only a game or two.

    "A lot of people aren't giving us any credit," he said. "After we get a couple of games under our belt, you've got enough experience to play. By midseason, hopefully, we'll be clicking and have good chemistry."

    Ross Dellenger, Daily Sports Writer


    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Suspended Florida guard Ronnie Wilson has pleaded no contest to battery and discharging a firearm.

    He received two years of court-supervised probation during his plea agreement Thursday, and must forfeit his firearm and perform 100 hours of community service.

    Wilson also must speak at an upcoming anti-violence rally and undergo a mental health evaluation. Adjudication of guilt was withheld.

    Coach Urban Meyer suspended Wilson for a year following his arrest.

    The sophomore from Pompano Beach had been a projected starter this fall but is no longer enrolled at Florida.

    His future with the team remains uncertain and he could face further discipline from the university if he returns.

    Wilson was arrested April 5 on charges of aggravated assault, simple battery and use or display of a concealed weapon during the commission of a felony. The felony charges against Wilson were later dropped.

    Police accused Wilson of shooting a semiautomatic rifle after a dispute with another man. Wilson later told police he took the rifle out of his trunk and fired one shot into the air because he wanted the other man "to know how it felt to be scared," according to a Gainesville Police Department arrest report.

    Wilson has since formally apologized to the victim and his family.


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — It didn't sound like the sort of nickname Kentucky's strong-armed but understated quarterback Andre Woodson would dream up. Turns out, he didn't.

    As the Wildcats' players braved sweltering heat and a barrage of questions Friday during the annual preseason media day, Woodson had to deflect a rumor that he was now labeling himself and five other offensive stars as the "Six-Sations."

    It was the team's resident practical joker, Dicky Lyons Jr., who first suggested the campy nickname was Woodson's idea. Only later did Woodson reveal the truth — that Lyons was behind it all along. "That guy's a character," he said.

    Woodson, Lyons and the rest of the offensive cast are back for a sequel to last year's breakout season in which the team won the Music City Bowl, its first postseason victory in 22 years.

    The good news: this team may be even better than that one. The bad: so is the schedule.

    That doesn't temper the expecations in Kentucky camp, though.

    "I would be extremely disappointed if we don't make some noise in this league and have a chance to compete in the (Southeastern Conference) race," coach Rich Brooks said.

    Brooks says this may be the best college team he's ever coached — including an Oregon squad he led to the Rose Bowl, but Kentucky's schedule reads like a virtual who's who of national powerhouses. It includes three home games against teams that won Bowl Championship Series games last year — in-state rival Louisville, Louisiana State and defending national champion Florida. Tennessee also travels to Lexington.


    HUNTINGTON. W.Va. — Bernard Morris' career at Marshall can be described as lukewarm, his best moments often overshadowed by embarrassment.

    The good: He's a fifth-year senior and a two-year starter at quarterback with speed and the ability to pile up the yardage on the ground.

    The bad: Poor decisions and plenty of interceptions, incompletions and injuries.

    It's likely that's Morris will end up at starter by default. Marshall will need a veteran presence in the Sept. 1 season opener at Miami, Fla., and at home the following week against West Virginia.

    Morris is 9-14 in his career as a starter and played through toe and ankle injuries last season. He threw more interceptions (12) than touchdown passes (eight) and surpassed 200 yards in the air in only one game.

    In his defense, one-fourth of the top 100 college quarterbacks last season had 10 or fewer TD passes.

    But that's little consolation in a program that compares any starting quarterback to NFL alums Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington.


    CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman walked into the gymnasium together, took seats alongside one another and spent much of the next hour saying exactly the same things.

    For now, they're equals. Over the next month, as they vie to become Miami's starting quarterback, that will change.

    At the place long known as 'Quarterback U,' that letter stands these days for uncertainty. Wright and Freeman will enter Hurricanes' training camp Saturday knotted in the race for the starting spot — which both believe they've earned. New Miami coach Randy Shannon says they'll stay tied until he announces the first-stringers Aug. 28, just days before the Sept. 1 opener against Marshall.

    "Obviously, people see a quarterback controversy or whatnot. There's not one," Freeman said Friday. "There's not a controversy at all because we're doing whatever it takes to win."

    Northern Colorado

    GREELEY, Colo. — A witness in the trial of a college football player accused of stabbing a teammate took the stand Friday and denied a defense lawyer's allegation that it was the witness, not Mitch Cozad, who was the attacker.

    Asked by the prosecutor if he stabbed Northern Colorado punter Rafael Mendoza, Kevin Aussprung said loudly, "No, I did not."

    Aussprung testified in the trial of Cozad, a former backup punter at Northern Colorado who is charged with attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault in a knife attack on Mendoza.

    Police and prosecutors say Cozad, of Wheatland, Wyo., attacked Mendoza in a parking lot outside Mendoza's apartment in a bid to take over the starter's job. Mendoza suffered a deep cut in his kicking leg but later returned to the team.

    Aussprung is a student at Northern Colorado and lived in the same dormitory as Cozad.

    - The Associated Press

    Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
    AP contributed to this report.

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