Auburn Football Stock Report: Riser No. 8

This series of reports features a dozen Auburn football players whose stock is on the rise based on their spring training performances.

Auburn, Ala.—Coming in at number eight on our list of Auburn football players whose stock is on the rise is sophomore defensive end LaDarius Owens.

A highly-regarded player out of Jess Lanier High in the Class of 2010, Owens redshirted his first year while moving back and forth between linebacker to defensive end.

Settling in at the end position last fall only to be hampered by an injury, Owens flourished under new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder this spring and looks to be headed towards a productive 2012 season for the Tigers.

After watching Owens try to get the new defensive system down the first half of spring practice, VanGorder said he saw the redshirt sophomore really take his performance to a higher level late in the workouts. That was apparent in the A-Day Game when Owens made two sacks and put constant pressure on the quarterbacks.

"It was good to see L.O. the last week," VanGorder said of the end's finish to spring drills. "I really felt like he felt much more comfortable and was letting go.

"I think that the D-line can be an area of strength in regards to depth," the coach said. "We still have a ways to go with some guys that have production potential. They're just in that battle of youth and experience, and they've got to gain a comfort that will allow them to take advantage of those traits."

LaDarius Owens is bigger and stronger heading into his third season with the Tigers.

Missing five games in 2011 after suffering a stress fracture in the loss to Arkansas, Owens returned to play a small role against Alabama in the final game of the regular season. Healthier, he played more against Virginia in the bowl win in Atlanta.

Finishing the season with just nine tackles, two and a half tackles for a loss, and one sack in six games played, Owens was hungry as the Tigers hit the practice field this spring.

That hunger turned into production as he and Dee Ford picked up the slack for Nosa Eguae with the junior out of spring because of an injury. While Ford got a lot of attention, and deservedly so for his play in spring practice, Owens was also pushing for playing time at the position.

With a summer to continue learning the position and working with the veterans such as Eguae, Ford and Corey Lemonier, Owens said he's ready to learn more and become a better player. If that's the case then teams may want to watch out for number 10 next fall.

"They're more experienced than me, been at the position longer than I have so I just take in everything they do, watch them and then I ask the questions to know on how I can get better at pass rushing or playing a block, or things of that nature," Owens says. "I just continue to do better every day. Hopefully, this fall I'll be able to help those guys out a lot."

Riser No. 9, Robenson Therezie

Riser No. 10, Eric Mack

Riser No. 11, Trent Fisher

Riser No. 12, C.J. Uzomah


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