Former players take different paths

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I can safely say I was shocked by both news items last week concerning former Shelby County high school football players at Auburn University.

In case you haven’t heard, former Pelham standout Montez Billings will be suspended for four games by the NCAA for academic reasons and former Spain Park standout Neil Caudle is the Tigers’ new backup quarterback.

I’ll start with Billings, the team’s leading receiver in 2008. It’s shocking to me that someone who has successfully obtained a bachelor degree in public administration could have academic issues in graduate school.

I’m really surprised because Billings had already missed spring practice due to an academic issue. You would think he learned his lesson then.

Billings led the Tigers last season with 24 catches and 277 yards. Billings will be missed. He likely would have been one of starter Chris Todd’s favorite targets to begin the season.

I expect he’ll once again play a key role in the offensive gameplan when he returns for the Tigers’ Oct. 3 date with Tennessee.

I’m more surprised by head coach Gene Chizik naming Caudle the primary backup to Todd.

Many doubt Caudle’s ability due to his previous inability to stay healthy.

That’s not the reason I’m surprised. I can’t believe Caudle is one play away from starting because I expected freshman Tyrik Rollison to get snaps as a true freshman as a nice complement to Todd.

I still will be shocked if Caudle takes the field during crunch time. If Todd goes down, I expect the Tigers to utilize quarterback-turned-receiver Kodi Burns in the backfield again.

Last week just proves that you can never know what the future holds. In the span of three days, a former Shelby County star will have a reduced role and another may have his role increased.

Both Caudle and Billings have proven that you should never take anything for granted.