Chizik's stop in Columbus provided a few worthwhile tidbits. Starting with ...
Gabe McKenzie: good signs. It's not quite as definite as I'd like--Chizik does not point-blank say that McKenzie will be on the field this fall--but that McKenzie will be working out with the team this summer as opposed to being the non-person he was during the spring is progress. Your quote of importance:
"Gabe's going to be working out with us," he said. "There are some health issues and things, but I really feel like we're on the right track in getting Gabe back to where he was."Now, I have to be honest: I don't buy that this is only a health/injury of some sort. Before McKenzie's problem was "medical things" ... now it's "health issues and things"? If that was the case, why was he basically nowhere to be seen during spring? I'm guessing these "and things" are things of a disciplinary nature rather than physical ... but then again, Chizik is of the Bill Belichick "name, rank, and serial number" school of divulging injury information, so I could be way, way off on that one. Still, the spring disappearing act sure looks like some form of penance to me.
Not, of course, that it really matters if McKenzie does indeed make it back to onto the fall roster.
Billings: no change. That Billings's status is unclear won't be a surprise to anyone who's been reading the JCCW or Luke Brietzke's blog over the past week or so, but maybe this quote makes things ever-so-slightly clearer?
“I always try to take things on a positive slant,” Chizik said. “I’m certainly optimistic about it. We just have to work through a couple of kinks here and there. With all things working I think we have a good shot of getting that done.”I wish I could read that last sentence optimistically, but when I hear a coach tell me that if everything is "working" he "thinks" that Billings will have a "good shot" at getting back, I think that adds up to Ain't likely to happen. Hope I'm wrong.
On schedule. It's not news--I meant to make note of it a couple of days ago-- but in case you missed it, DeAngelo Benton, Nick Fairley, and Philip Lutzenkirchen are enrolled and on campus as planned. So much for that talk the first two weren't ever going to make it to the Plains in the first place, huh?
Guess this'll go here. Yesterday, ESPN's Chris Low listed five "out-of-nowhere" players who "came out of nowhere this spring to become major factors heading into the fall." I think "major factor" might be a stretch for Justin Albert, but still, it's nice to have this write-up of him at No. 5:
He came to Auburn as a walk-on after blowing out his knee during his senior year of high school and spent last season on the scout team. Scholarship or no scholarship, Albert was one of those guys this spring that his teammates kept talking about in glowing terms. He's hungry, talented and willing to do whatever he can to contribute. He showed a knack for making the big plays in scrimmages and should fit in nicely to Gus Malzahn's new spread offense.I'll say this: if Albert winds up being a factor at the most crowded position on the entire roster, he'll make Spencer "Great Story" Pybus's story look like a biography of the Rockefeller children. (OK, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point.)