March 26, 2013

NOTEBOOK: Florence out

AUBURN | The Tigers will be without two long-time players when spring drills begin Wednesday morning.

Coach Gus Malzahn said fullback/tight end/offensive lineman Blake Burgess and safety Erique Florence have played their last downs in an Auburn uniform. Burgess is expected to graduate in May and elected to focus on his studies instead.

Florence is a different story.

"He's taking care of some personal issues," Malzahn said. "We wish him nothing but the best."

The safety from Valley High was one of the most celebrated members of the Tigers' 2011 signing class, though he never seemed to get on track after a solid freshman season. Florence dealt with an undisclosed injury during a scrimmage last fall. He played sparingly.

Burgess played in 24 career games at three different positions. He's a theater major who has played roles in several on-campus plays, which frequently forced him to make difficult decisions regarding his time outside of class.

He's a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

TRADING PLACES: Malzahn has held conversations with players and coaches regarding some possible changes in positions, but isn't ready to discuss them just yet.

"It's really hard to single anybody out," he said. "There will be some players that we'll see how they do and get started in (a new) position. And then we will move some people around if they don't fit in that position. The unique thing for a new staff coming in is putting the guys in the best place to help us win. There will be some movement."

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