Auburn Starts out With Young Kickers

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - The Tigers will no longer have their old reliable trio of John Vaughn, Kody Bliss and Matt Clark to kick around.

Instead, Auburn's kicking game will feature freshman placekicker Wes Byrum, redshirt freshman punter Ryan Shoemaker and a kickoff man yet to be named. At least they can find comfort in their collective youth.

Coupled with the new rule moving kickoffs back 5 yards to the 30, that youth means Auburn will put more position starters on the kick return and coverage units.

Byrum, one of the nation's top kicking prospects a year ago, and Shoemaker both opened camp as the front-runners for the starting jobs and did nothing to lose their spots.

They have big shoes to fill. Bliss ranked third nationally in punting and Vaughn is Auburn's alltime leading scorer. Clark, meanwhile, had only 17 of his 66 kickoffs returned last season.

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

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