Three members of Auburn's undefeated BCS National Championship squad will represent the Tigers in the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl. Offensive lineman Lee Ziemba, linebacker Josh Bynes, and safety Zac Etheridge have accepted invitations to the senior showcase event, officials announced today.
The 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl is scheduled for 3pm (CT) on January 29th in Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game and practices will be televised live by NFL Network.
Ziemba was a consensus first team All-American this season (Walter Camp, AFCA and FWAA) while helping the Tigers lead the SEC in scoring offense (42.7), total offense (497.7), rushing offense (287.2) and first downs (24.3). He has started every game at left tackle for the Tigers since walking on campus in 2007, making 51 consecutive starts entering next month's BCS National Championship game.
The Rogers, Arkansas native claimed the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in the SEC this season and was a first team All-SEC selection by both the AP and Coaches. He was also part of an offensive unit that broke school records for points (555) and total offense (6,470 yards) and paved the way for six consecutive 300-yard rushing efforts against SEC opponents for the first time in school history.
"It's a great honor being selected to the Senior Bowl. You can really learn a lot from the coaches that coach there and improve how you play the game. It's definitely an honor and I'm really excited about it," Ziemba said.
Bynes was a second team AP All-SEC selection this season after leading the Tigers with 71 tackles and three interceptions. The middle linebacker also has 5.5 tackles for loss, a sack, four pass breakups and a forced fumble. He was a key part of an Auburn defense that ranked second in the SEC this season in rushing defense, surrendering just 111.7 yards per game. The three-year starter has 238 career tackles and posted a season high 10 in the Tigers' Iron Bowl victory over Alabama this season.
"It's a great opportunity for me to showcase what I can do alongside some of the other top players in the nation. Getting a chance to work out in front of NFL scouts will be a great chance for me to show my skills, and it's also an opportunity to have a fun time," Bynes said.
Senior Zac Etheridge was added to the roster on Saturday. Etheridge suffered a near career ending neck injury last season, but bounced back to help lead the Tigers in 2010.
"We're happy to be able to add Zac to the South roster as he is very deserving of this recognition," Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale said. "Zac was one of the many senior leaders that contributed to the Tigers' undefeated championship season this year and seemed to play his best when it mattered most."
Etheridge closed out his collegiate career by snagging his third interception of the season in the Tigers' 22-19 victory over Oregon in the BCS National Championship. He was an honorable mention All-SEC pick this season after finishing second on the team in tackles (69) and 38th in the SEC in tackles per game (4.9). He had his best outing of the season against Kentucky-totaling 11 tackles, eight of which were unassisted.
"It was great, I've been working so hard to get that invite and I was just so happy to get that call (from Senior Bowl President Steve Hale) especially after the National Championship game, it just made the celebration even better," Etheridge said.
For his career the Troy, Alabama native tallied 259 total tackles, eight tackles for loss and four interceptions. He also made a remarkable comeback from a serious neck injury he suffered his junior year. Prior to the injury, Etheridge had made 33 consecutive starts.
"I'm very blessed just to get this opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl and really to play the game again," Etheridge said.
Etheridge, Ziemba and Bynes will be coached by Chan Gailey and his Buffalo Bills staff while in Mobile. In all, the SEC is sending 22 players to the Under Armour Senior Bowl with the Florida Gators and Mississippi State Bulldogs tied for the most participants at four a piece.
"I'm looking forward to it, it's my chance to get down there and show my talents in front of a lot of NFL scouts and go out there with a lot of college players that you didn't get to play against from other conferences. It's just a great opportunity to go down there and compete against those guys," Etheridge added.
Tickets for the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl are currently available for purchase at the Senior Bowl ticket office (151 Dauphin Street), the Bel Air Mall customer service desk, all area Food For Less locations, select Regions Bank locations, online at www.seniorbowl.com or by calling (251) 432-4109.