The Auburn Tigers are looking for a rebound 2013 season under new head coach Gus Malzahn after finishing winless in the SEC in 2012. They have holes to fill all over the field and have been working all spring to improve on both sides of the ball. Their efforts for next fall may take a hit, however, following the news that safety Demetruce McNeal has taken time away from the team for “personal reasons.”
McNeal was not with the team for the final days of spring practice and Malzahn didn’t shed any additional light on the situation with reporters. He simply said that “He’s got to take care of some business,” and when pressed on whether McNeal would return to the team, the head coach responded that senior defensive back was still on the team, but his return is “still up in the air.”
If McNeal is unable to return to the team, it would be a major blow to the Tigers’ defense next season. McNeal was the leading returning tackler from the 2012 after recording 90 tackles, including seven tackles for loss, one sack, a forced fumble and four pass breakups. He figured to be one of the key defensive leaders in the secondary that was looking to make major improvements next season.
Auburn coaches and fans will hope that McNeal’s absence from the team is short-lived and he has the opportunity to handle whatever it is that is affecting him away from the football field. Once he feels good about his situation off the field, the Tigers will undoubtedly welcome him back into the fold on the field.