Auburn's Doolittle Trims Down in bid for Playing Time

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Tez Doolittle had two shoulder surgeries before he even played a down for Auburn. Then, he tore a knee ligament as a sophomore.

So shedding a few pounds seemed a small price to pay for a shot at more playing time as a senior. The Tigers' noseguard has dropped from 308 pounds to 290 since the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day, and feels like it has helped his performance this spring.

It won't likely earn him a starting spot for his final season, with Josh Thompson and backup Pat Sims returning. But Doolittle is at least making a case for increasing his role in the fall after combining for just 19 tackles his first three seasons, thanks in part to the injury problems.

Defensive line coach Don Dunn said Doolittle and redshirt freshman tackle Mike Blanc have had the best springs of the defensive linemen, with end Sen'Derrick Marks limited by an ankle injury. Doolittle and junior college transfer Greg Smith are both battling obstacles for bigger roles in the playing rotation.

The 6-foot-3 Doolittle thinks the lighter weight has helped him on the field, and figures his ideal playing weight is about 285.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)