Young Auburn Linebacker Sees Progress

An redshirt freshman linebacker discusses his team's preparations for a bowl matchup against Virginia.

Auburn, Ala.--Redshirt freshman Jawara White says he is looking forward to the Chick-fil-A Bowl and notes he is seeing signs the defense is making progress as his Auburn Tigers prepare to close the 2012 season.

"Practice has been going good," says White, who will be back on a football field Monday when the Tigers resume workouts with the first of four practices at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

"The practices have been real intense and I am trying to take advantage of that by getting better every day I am out there," the former Charles Henderson High School standout says.

"As a group the linebackers have been working at seeing the ball better and getting our hands on more passes," White points out. "The same is true with the whole defense."

Head coach Gene Chizik is pulling triple duty as the Tigers prepare to play Virginia. He has been serving as position coach of the linebackers and defensive coordinator while he finds a replacement for Ted Roof.

Describing Chizik's style in training the linebackers, White smiles and says, "He is an intense coach. He expects nothing but the best from the linebackers and that is what we are striving for. It has been fun having him as a coach and we are enjoying it.

"You can tell he enjoys being out there," White adds. "He is usually sitting back and watching the linebackers. Now he is hands on."

Commenting on what Chizik has been telling the defense as a whole as the team prepares to face the Cavaliers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, White says, "We are going to try to stop the run and play physical football. Coach Chizik has given us a good plan to do that and win the game."

The linebacker has overcome early season injury issues and played in 10 games this season. He has 23 tackles, including 2 1/2 for lost yardage. Last season a neck/back issue forced a redshirt year for the former high school star from Troy, who was a standout at multiple positions when he caught the attention of Auburn's coaching staff.

White says he believes the Tigers have made progress as a defensive unit in bowl practices. "Everybody is getting better," he says. "I know I have learned a lot this season. Now that I have game experience, I have learned what to look for. Little stuff comes to me now."

The Tigers have just one senior linebacker, Eltoro Freeman, to replace after the 2011 season ends in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Freeman, who has played his best football the last half of the season, earned his degree in December and will try to play in the NFL next year.

White notes that one of his goals for the bowl is to have Freeman finish his collegiate days with a memorable game. "I have to send Bull out a winner," he says. "He has worked so hard for it."

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