AUBURN – With Early Signing Day and Auburn's bowl game approaching, head coach Hugh Freeze addressed the media to discuss those topics as well as others on Saturday.

“I’m excited to start practice today," Freeze said. "I’ve missed our kids and seeing them around. You feel a little scattered, truthfully, with everything going on and the calendar we’re faced with and to combine bowl prep with that, it makes for a full weekend, for sure, with us having recruits here and trying to start bowl prep, but it’s exciting that we have that opportunity."

Freeze mentioned a few players who might opt out of participating in the bowl game.

"I’ve tried to get confirmation with all of that," Freeze said. "Sometimes I say things that are not exactly accurate, and I don’t like doing that. It’s not intentional. I believe that DJ (James) and (Nehemiah) Pritchett will not play, as I believe that about Marcus Harris also. I think those guys will decide to opt-out. I believe everybody else is, obviously, you have the transfer portal world that may be a whole different discussion, but I think the rest are planning to play as long as they’re healthy enough to play.”

The transfer portal has been open for a few weeks now, and Freeze talked about how he thinks he has done with it so far.

"I don’t think I’ve handled it very well, truthfully," Freeze said. "We want to build this program through high school for the most part. Having said that, I don’t know if you can ever isolate yourself into saying that’s what is going to happen because you don’t know how many you’re going to lose at this time, if that makes sense. You can plan, ‘Hey, we’re going to replace these 20 seniors with 20 high schoolers’, but then all of a sudden you have 30 spots and you haven’t recruited enough high schoolers for those spots and, obviously, you have to go to the portal then."

Freeze talked about the conversations he has had with Auburn players who have decided to enter the portal.

“The portal guys, I had great conversations with Robby (Ashford) and I wish all of those guys the best," Freeze said. "Everybody has to make their own choices of what they think is best for them. We try to give them great advice and wisdom and obviously try to convince them to stay if we think that’s best for them. In some cases, it’s OK for them to leave. I enjoyed my conversations with Robby and wish him the best as I do the other guys who chose to go in the portal."

Freeze talked about Early Signing Day and what he is expecting to see.

“I’m optimistic, but I’ve done this long enough to know some crazy things can happen between now and Signing Day," Freeze said. "I’m certainly not going to think that it’s all finished. But I like the effort that we’ve put into building relationships and to being thorough. I feel like we’re signing a really solid class for our first class here. There are always a few missing pieces that you’d like to have a few more of. But there is no doubt that if we get to the finish line with the kids we think we’re going to get, we’ve improved ourselves.”

Early Signing Day will take place on Wednesday, and Auburn will take on Maryland in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl on December 30 at 1 p.m. CT.

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