Entering the program with the goal of playing right away and performing at a high level, Lawson played in backup role in 2013 but still managed 20 tackles, four sacks and seven and a half tackles for losses. His sack total was second on the team to that of Dee Ford and only Ford and Gabe Wright bettered his total for lost yardage.
What's next for Lawson following that kind of introduction as a freshman? Plenty if you ask him, and it starts right now
"It's a very big spring for me and the defense as well," Lawson said. "As a defensive unit we need to establish more communication. We had a lot of problems with that last year.
"It's a big spring for me because last year, I was a little bit disappointed with my performance and I can't wait to get better."
Although he made some plays early in his first season, Lawson really arrived against the Ole Miss Rebels in game four when he had a pair of sacks and ran over, around and through another heralded freshman lined up across from him that day. While that may seem like it was a quick impact for a true freshman, Lawson said that was part of the disappointment for him.
"How long it took me to adjust to the college game," he said of what bothered him about his first season.
Now one of the leaders on the defensive line even though he's just heading into his sophomore season, Lawson is one of the top contenders to take over for Ford as Auburn's primary pass rusher. Between now and next season, however, he said there is plenty to work on starting with the little things.
"It's just my overall football awareness, addressing different schemes when I'm out there on the field--snap count, getting off the ball, hands, footwork," Lawson said. "Every little aspect of my game I need to improve."
Improvement should come as he becomes more aware of what opposing offenses are trying to accomplish and how they are trying to handle him. A powerful player with the athleticism to make plays off the edge, Lawson said now that he is becoming more comfortable within the defense with every passing day it will only allow him to play faster.
"Having knowledge in the offense and defense allows you not to waste as much energy," Lawson said. "If you're all over the place, you're wasting energy and you're putting your time and effort in the wrong direction. Once I have a better understanding of what I'm doing, the game comes easier to me."
Carl Lawson helped the Tigers win the 2013 SEC Championship and win 12 games.
Joined at defensive end this spring on the left side by fellow freshman standout Montravius Adams and with Gabe Wright and Angelo Blackson both working some on the right side, the Tigers are experimenting to try to find the best group of players to put on the field in every possible situation. No matter who that winds up being Lawson said he's just happy to be part of the group and pushing towards success in 2014.
"It's always fun," he said of the different rotation. "I have fun every day working with these guys. These are my brothers."