News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



AUBURN — Defensive end Quentin Groves and linebacker Tray Blackmon practiced 50 percent Tuesday, according to Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville. He said Groves and Blackmon will probably not start against Arkansas this weekend but may play in “emergency” situations.

Blackmon is suffering from a lingering ankle injury he sustained against Kansas State in the season opener. Groves dislocated three toes on his right foot against Florida. Neither player dressed out for last week’s game against Vanderbilt.

“Quentin can’t push off,” Tuberville said. “He doesn’t have an strength in the foot.”

Center Jason Bosley, who sprained his knee in the win over Vanderbilt, is doubtful, Tuberville said. Linebacker Merrill Johnson (shoulder) and safety Aairon Savage, who twisted his knee against Florida, did not practice.

Tuberville said Bosley, Johnson and Savage are in a similar situation to Groves and Blackmon and could be used in dire circumstances.

“If they were needed in terms of depth,” he said, “they might be able to give you a few plays like Tray did against Florida.”

Blackmon started and finished with 26 snaps in the win over Florida before the ankle flared up again last week, sidelining him for the Vanderbilt game.

  • Tuberville didn’t provide any further information on who will start at tailback for the Tigers this weekend. There seems to be a battle between sophomore Ben Tate and junior Brad Lester.

    When asked about the starting position during his Tuesday news conference, Tuberville said, “You’ll have to visit with (running backs coach) Eddie (Gran) about who will start because he works with them everyday.”

    But assistant coaches were not available to reporters Tuesday.

    Lester returned from a six-game suspension last week and said Sunday he will have to win his starting job back from Tate, who is averaging 84 yards per game thus far this season.

  • Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall will be coaching against his former boss Saturday when the Tigers travel to Arkansas.

    Nall coached under Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring when the two were at Texas Christian in the early 1990s. Nall served as Herring’s defensive line coach in 1993 when Herring was defensive coordinator at TCU.

    “I talked to him last week. I talk to Reggie pretty regularly, and we’ve been friends a long time,” Nall said.

    “We know we won’t talk this week,” he added with a laugh.

    Herring is in his third season as the Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator. Nall left TCU in 1994 to join Tuberville’s staff at Ole Miss. The 49-year-old Nall has been with Tuberville ever since.

  • Auburn’s basketball team added a fourth recruit to its 2008 signing class when North Carolina small forward Kenny Gabriel committed to the Tigers.

    A 6-foot-8, 197-pounder from Charlotte’s United Faith Academy, Gabriel chose Auburn over Miami, Charlotte, East Carolina, Winthrop and South Florida, according to Gabriel told that he averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game as a junior last season.

    Ross Dellenger,
    Daily sports writer


    TUSCALOOSA — Alabama left guard Justin Britt was excused for a second straight day of practice.

    According to offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell, Britt’s mother was involved in an accident last weekend in which she fell. Caldwell said he talked to Britt on Monday.

    “He was a little upset, but I think they are going to be OK,” Caldwell said. “They are going to pull through, and I just told him that we are going to be praying for him right then and there.”

    Britt is the third of three brothers to play at Alabama. Wesley, an offensive lineman started 48 games at Alabama from 2001-04. Taylor Britt arrived at Alabama in 2002 and lettered in 2005. Against Utah in 2004, all three Britts suited up together for the first time.

    It is unclear what the offensive line will look like with Britt’s absence. On Tuesday, Davis was playing right guard with Caldwell at left guard and Evan Cardwell at center.

  • Defensive end Bobby Greenwood and linebacker Keith Saunders practiced without black non-contact jerseys Tuesday.

    Greenwood sprained his ankle against Florida State and was limited last week in practice. Saunders hurt his knee against Houston and did not go through contact drills Monday.

    The only player wearing a black jersey Tuesday was defensive back Ali Sharrief, who hurt his neck against the Cougars.

    Josh Cooper,
    Daily Sports Writer

    North Alabama

    FLORENCE — With a 5-0 record and coming off a 40-7 win over Ouachita Baptist, the North Alabama football team again is ranked third in the NCAA Division II poll, which was released Tuesday by the American Football Coaches Association.

    The selection marks the 23rd straight week that UNA has been ranked at least sixth. The last time UNA was ranked lower than sixth in the nation was November 8, 2005, when the Lions were No. 13. In fact, UNA has been ranked either third or fourth in the nation in 22 of the last 23 DII polls.

    From staff reports

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