Lawson Working to Prove He Belongs

Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson played well as a freshman, but is far from satisfied as he and his teammates on defense look for improvement during the 2014 season.

Auburn, Ala.--Last season Carl Lawson came into fall camp as a highly-regarded defensive end full of potential but short on college experience. He was determined not to become another top-rated bust, though.

"There are a lot of guys coming through over the years--you see it--and five-star this, and five-star that, and then people disappear," he said. "I'm just trying not to be one of those guys."

The 6-2, 258-pound sophomore is in no danger of disappearing, regardless of how much Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon might wish it so.

Lawson had his coming out party against Ole Miss last October, skipping gleefully off the field after one of his two sacks that game, but the most memorable play he made last season was his 4th-and-1 stuff of Yeldon deep in Auburn territory late in the fourth quarter. The stop set up Nosa Eguae's field goal block and put the Tigers in position to make the game-tying drive.

"I get asked a lot (about the play), but you've got to move on to next season," said Lawson, who will be a key part of Auburn's defense next season at end.

Lawson and the Tigers had a solid spring.

When Lawson first arrived on the Plains, he leaned on defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker to help him adjust to the college game. Now, Lawson says there is no one in particular he leans on and that he feels like he is improving every day.

"I feel way more comfortable out there than I did coming into fall camp," the Alpharetta, Ga., native said. "I feel like we all lean on each other. I feel like now that I have more understanding of what I'm doing I can coach other guys up as well as they coach me up."

The injury bug hit Auburn's defensive ends with LaDarius Owens out for the spring with an broken bone in his foot and Elijah Daniel missing time with a pulled groin. Even Lawson missed time late after tweaking his knee in one of the final spring workouts. That necessitated the move of tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams to defensive end this spring.

Lawson noted that Wright has lined up at the opposite end position with the first team. Despite the injuries, Lawson says he thinks the defensive line made progress this spring.

"We know that we had some guys out, but every day is a blessing," he said. "I feel like we're all stepping up and we're all developing together. There's nobody that stands out to me. I just feel like we're all doing what we can to get better."

Ellis Johnson, the defensive coordinator, said that Lawson is making progress. "Carl had a great spring," the coach said. "Our objective with Carl, we know he's a good player, and he made some really dynamic plays last year as a true freshman.

"What our objective was with him this spring was to make him a good overall, every-down player," the coach added. "Better at the point of attack. Better at learning some of our twists schemes and maybe some of our blitzes and other things, and adjustments. He had a really good spring. He's a much more complete player than he was, and still has that ability to bring the dynamic plays on third down, too."

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