HOOVER - Dressed in their finest, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, wide receiver Emory Blake and defensive end Corey Lemonier came to Southeastern Conference Media Days on Wednesday to represent Auburn.
WR Emory Blake talks at SEC Media Days on Wednesday/Todd Van Emst photos
They talked about leadership, their excitement about playing Clemson in the season-opener, about the growth of quarterback Kiehl Frazier and other young players and about the impact of the tragic shooting that marred their summer and took the lives of two former teammates and more.
Lutzenkirchen on leadership
"Last year in the offseason we were expecting a senior to kind of step up and lead the team, and we just never really got that. Midway through the season it kind of fell on my shoulders and Emory Blake's shoulders and some of the other guys who were juniors. It's tough going through a whole offseason trying to prepare for a season when you don't really have that leadership.
"That's one thing Emory and I have really been harping on this year, that we are the leaders of this team and it is our team. We are trying to instill that attitude that the leaders when we were sophomores and freshmen showed to us - like Cam Newton and Lee Ziemba. We are expecting excellence of the younger guys like they expected of us when we were their age."
Lemonier on gaining weight and stopping the run
He said he is now near 250 pounds, the most he's ever weighed.
"You can't really play SEC tight ends and SEC offensive linemen weighing like 230. That was a big thing for me. Gaining weight was a big thing for me. I'm at about 250."
Blake on Frazier's growth as a quarterback
"Completely different. Completely different dude. If I didn't know Kiehl, I wouldn't think he was the same guy. He's changed that much. He's come so far since Coach (Scot) Loeffler got here just with his attitude. He's always had a big arm. When he first got to Auburn, he was throwing darts. His progressions in his reads have gotten so much better. He's gotten confident."
Lutzenkirchen on Frazier's growth
"Kiehl has gotten a lot better from last fall to now. Coach Loeffler is a big part of that. He's developed quarterbacks his whole career. Kiehl has taken that leadership role. Last year, being a true freshman and trying to help lead an offense, he wasn't that comfortable with it. Now it's an opportunity for him to take the reins of this offense. He's gained everyone's respect with what he's done this offseason."
Lutzenkirchen on the deaths of former teammates
"If anything, it has made our team a lot closer. It stinks you have to have something like that happen for us all to get together and realize how blessed we are and realize the situation we are in and how much we have going for us. It brought us together and humbled us and made us want to work harder and honor them on the field."
Blake on his expectations
"I think I'm starting to get some recognition, especially in the SEC. I'm ready to prove I'm one of the best. I believe that I am and I want to prove that."
For videos of the three interviews, follow the links below.