April 20, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Cameron Artis-Payne, the guy who didn't play football for two years after high school, the guy who went from Pennsylvania to California to play junior college ball, formally announced his arrival in Auburn on Saturday.
He rushed for 117 yards, caught two passes for 47 yards, scored a touchdown and was named the offensive MVP in Auburn's A-Day Game played in front of a record spring crowd of 83,401.
Auburn fans took in the running back. And he took in the crowd.
"I was shocked. I've never been around 80,000 fans at one time," he said.
Artis-Payne had a game-high 18 carries, partly because Tre Mason has been slowed the last two weeks because of a sore ankle, and because Corey Grant didn't play because of a fever.
"I just tried to play hard," Artis-Payne said.
Spring stars come and go, but Auburn is hoping Artis-Payne can join Mason, a 1,000-yard rusher, as a threat this fall.
Artis-Payne scored on a 27-yard touchdown and made a fancy finger-tip catch out of the backfield that he turned into a 42-yard gain.
"Our coaches have got us working on catching the ball all the time -- bad throws, good throws, whatever," Artis-Payne said. "You've just got to catch the ball and get your hands on it."
It was nice, but…
"It was definitely nice to get in the open field," he said. "I'd rather be between the tackles, honestly, but it was all right."
Grant had probably received the most praise of the three tailbacks before Saturday. It's been that kind of spring.
"It actually got me excited.. I love seeing them do their thing," Mason said. "We want to do this thing together and we’re looking to do something, have three 1,000-yard backs."
Auburn ran 80 plays and did all the scoring in the first half before the Tigers simply ran the clock, without stopping it, to send the fans home happy.
"As a team, we see how explosive we can be on offense," Artis-Payne said. "Also our defense is coming together and doing real good. It's motivation for us to work harder because we know what we can be if everything is clicking.
"I think the team can be great and the offense can be great. We've got a mastermind as far as offense with Coach Malzahn and Coach Lashlee."
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