Jawara White’s status has been downgraded to “tragedy,” his position coach says.
Thanks to Bell’s upbeat meeting with media and ominous-sounding news about White on Wednesday, injury news took center stage as Auburn crossed the midway point of spring football practice.
The news started badly as Auburn coach Gene Chizik said White was “beat up and banged up,” and the news seemed to get worse when linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen sat down with reporters.
Thigpen described the sophomore’s progress since moving to middle linebacker this spring as “just OK” then cast a pall over White’s situation.
“A lot of those guys are making the same mental errors, but he was doing well, up until that point,” Thigpen said. “It’s just a tragedy. His circumstances just happened recently.”
White’s status has been up in the air since he sustained a concussion in August of 2010. An MRI at the time showed extra fluid on his spinal cord, and he required surgery.
He came back and played in 2011, appearing in 11 games with 13 tackles.
He moved from strong-side linebacker the middle this spring. Now, his status is uncertain.
“We will know his status more as we move forward,” Chizik said.
That news came minutes before Bell sat down with reporters to talk about his borderline amazing recovery.
Bell, a senior and Auburn’s top cornerback, tore the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and posterior medial oblique in his left knee during the Auburn’s 45-7 loss at Georgia this past season.
He underwent surgery and began what promised to be a long road back to recovery, but his recovery has gone ahead of schedule. Chizik has raved about Bell’s recovery throughout spring practice.
“I’m really proud of him,” Chizik said. “He’s really taken to his rehab really well. He’s taken it personal, and he’s taken his rehab to a new level.
“Again, as I said earlier, one of the things that has been at least positive, if there’s any positive about that, is he kind of knows the mental part of the game, which is usually the biggest struggle. He’s making huge, huge strides. He feels confident about it. He’s working hard to improve every day.”
Bell, best known to Auburn fans for the sack that knocked former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy out of the 2010 Iron Bowl, said Wednesday the speed of recovery has surprised him.
“It’s taken a lot of prayer and taken a lot of hard work, but definitely I surprised myself,” he said. “But I’m not satisfied. I want to keep going. I want to be better than I was when I was healthy. So that’s the goal for me.”
Asked if he will be ready come fall practice, he said, “Not a question. Not a doubt in my mind. I’ll be ready to go.”
Bell has been limited but has participated in some spring drills.
“It’s helped a lot,” he said. ‘At first, they were telling me, ‘We want you to kind of stay out of it, you know, just watch,’ but they’ve kind of given me a little freedom to do some drills.
“Being around the guys has helped me a lot. That way I can coach them up and also learn myself. So it’s been good for me.”
Auburn is eight practices through its 15-practice spring schedule.
In other injury news, Chizik said junior quarterback Clint Moseley is starting to throw more after missing more than a week with inflammation in his throwing shoulder.
“Clint played a little bit more today,” Chizik said. “He threw some today.
“I think, slowly but surely, we’re weaning him in. His shoulder, he’s getting a lot of treatment with it. I think his shoulder is getting better day by day.”
Moseley was Auburn’s starter for the last half of the 2011 season and is battling sophomore Kiehl Frazier and freshman Zeke Pike for the job this spring. Auburn is not expected to announce a starter before August.
Also, kicker Cody Parkey has what Chizik described as a muscle pull and hasn’t worked much in spring drills.
“We don’t want to risk anything,” Chizik said. “It’s early in the morning, and it’s wet out there, too, so we haven’t used him out there recently.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.