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Monday News and Notes from Auburn

Good Monday to you. I hope those of you living here in the South dodged all the severe weather thrown our way this weekend.

I don't believe I've ever enjoyed an NCAA Tournament like I have this year's edition. It's hard to beat the excitement of March Madness. I'm looking forward to Tony Barbee turning the Auburn program around quickly. Auburn fans are missing out on a special time of the year not having a horse in the race...

Players and coaches are saying good things following the first week of practice. With media and fans locked out, there's not a whole lot to go on other than hearsay. Following the first workout in pads on Saturday, Gene Chizik was talking defense.

He says Auburn will run more of the nickel package this fall with more teams moving to the spread offense. Chizik said senior cornerback T'Sharvan Bell and junior safety Ikeem Means worked at the nickleback position during Saturday's scrimmage. Ryan White, Jonathon Mincy, Chris Davis and Jonathan Rose are working at Bell's corner spot when Bell is in the nickel...

Linebacker Jawara White is being held out of spring practice because his neck has not healed enough following surgery last year. Coaches say he should be full speed when fall camp opens in August...

Offensive tackle Shon Coleman is making great progress in recovering from cancer according to Chizik. He said he was unsure of when or if he'll be cleared to play football by doctors...

After being tried out on the defensive line last season, big Ladarious Phillips is now officially a fullback. At nearly 300 pounds, he should bring back memories of Refrigerator Perry lining up in the backfield for the Chicago Bears in the 1980's...

Auburn welcomed more than 30 top-rated high school players to campus on Saturday for Junior Day. It paid dividends quickly with the commitment of West Limestone High School wide receiver Alex Taylor.

The 6-foot-4 205 pounder rushed for 1,173 yards and 11 touchdowns this past season. He had offers from Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and Nebraska. He's the third player to commit in recent days, joining linebacker Cassanova McKinzy of Woodlawn High School in Birmingham and offensive lineman Michael Flint of Oxford High School.

Perhaps the biggest visitor of the weekend was Raleigh, N.C. running back Keith Marshall. Last season in only 10 games, he rushed for 1,166 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's been timed at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.

With offers from virtually every program in the country, Marshall said he liked what he saw on his first visit to Auburn.

"It was good to see (the coaches during) practice because you can see how they are, not when they are recruiting, but when they are with their own players," said Marshall. "I like how the coaches practice. Coach (Curtis) Luper is real laid back, not in your face."

Marshall says he'll take a number of visits this fall before making a commitment...

This past weekend is one Auburn baseball coach John Pawlowski would like to soon forget. Yesterday Auburn managed only four hits in a 5-0 loss at Miss State. The win gave the Bulldogs their first SEC series sweep since 2007 when ironically, they did it against Auburn.

The 20th ranked Tigers now sit 14-10 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

"This was a frustrating weekend," said Pawlowski. "We were out-played. Give Mississippi State credit, they did a good job. When they got guys in scoring position they came up with the big hit. We didn't have many chances offensively. We only had one leadoff guy on base. This is not the start or the weekend we wanted."

Auburn returns home this Tuesday to face Troy. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT.