August 28, 2013

Guarded optimism

AUBURN | Alex Kozan had it easy in high school.

Like many top-tier recruits who spend game days along the line of scrimmage, the redshirt freshman was bigger and stronger and better than almost everyone he encountered. He became a four-star prospect, a made-to-order interior college lineman and someone briefly considered part of the Tigers' solution in 2012.

Then reality hit.

"There's different techniques you've got to use in order to block those three-techniques and nose guards -- as big and strong as they are," Kozan said. "(The) big problem I had was not being able to stay low enough. I'd always played so high in school because I was strong enough to overcome that. Learning how to play with technique makes you a more sound a fundamental football player."

Sound like a mature football player?

That's because he is. Kozan, now 6-foot-4 and 297 pounds, is expected to be named starter at left guard when Auburn's depth chart is released later today. A fall on the scout team and varsity challenges throughout spring practice and fall camp gave Kozan the look of a Southeastern Conference starter.

Gus Malzahn isn't an easy coach to please.

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