Colby Wooden came into the team room fresh off the first practice of fall camp, ready to take questions from the media but looking like a worn out man. So, it had to be asked: was that due to the offensive line having their way with him?
“No, that sun got the best of me,” the defensive end said.
It was a typical hot Alabama August day, with the sun beating down on the practice field. Wooden, a senior, has grown used to that during his four years at Auburn, but for the newcomers taking part in their first collegiate fall camp today, Wooden and the veterans had some advice. Especially Wooden, whose younger brother Caleb will be one of those introduced to the grind on Friday.
“Oh, the honeymoon phase is over,” Wooden said he told his brother. “You’re coming to work, big dog. Yeah, everything they recruited you for and all the visions of you getting to be like a Derrick Brown or somebody hard like that, hey, it’s time to work.”
Wooden remembers how hard it was for him to adjust his first year, calling it an “eye-opening” experience. He admits he was “soft as cotton” when he first arrived, but the tutelage of Rodney Garner made him instantly stronger physically and mentally.
Austin Troxell, entering his sixth season at Auburn, had a simple piece of advice for the newcomers.
“Get in shape,” the offensive lineman said. “Don’t come in out of shape.”
When Owen Pappoe arrived, he had veteran players sharing stories about moments when they were ready to quit, the workload and pure physical punishment being too much for them. He says everyone has those thoughts at least once, and it won’t be any different this year for those starting their careers. But, the linebacker was expecting that because the coaches had told him the truth.
“When I was getting recruited, they told me there was going to be days where it was easy, then there was going to be a lot of days of hard work,” Pappoe said.
It’s the same message Shedrick Jackson, now in his fifth year, has for the young guys while also helping them through the transition.
“It’s real different — especially when you’re getting recruited, they tell you all the good stuff,” Jackson said. “They pamper you. When you get here, it’s about work.”
But the good-natured Wooden had the line of the day when asked what he told the newcomers, including his brother.
“So I tell him, ‘Put your hard pale hat on,'” he said before correcting himself. “No, put your hard hat on, grab your hard pale lunch and go to work.”