August 3, 2007

Etheridge making push for starting job

It was one of the most unusual highlights of Auburn's Friday afternoon practice: A topsy-turvy tipped ball play, leading to a wild scramble that enlivened a routine seven-on-seven passing drill.

The ball ricocheted off a linebacker's helmet and floated a few feet through the air, nearly landing in the outstretched hands of a diving Zac Etheridge.

Fans who were in attendance Friday would be well-advised to remember that drill. It just might be the last Etheridge misses out on a chance to make a big play.

The redshirt freshman safety has already made a name for himself as a playmaker. In little more than a year on campus, Etheridge has impressed coaches at every turn, playing his way into contention for a starting job.

Through two days of preseason practice, Etheridge is sharing first-team reps with senior Eric Brock. The two had a neck-and-neck competition in the spring and are continuing to fight for the top strong safety job in the preseason.

It's not always easy competing against a fifth-year senior with 91 career tackles, but Etheridge relishes the competition.

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