Danzey Ready To Give It His Best Shot

Devonte Danzey talks about his tough first year and getting his opportunity at guard this preseason.

Auburn, Ala.--It has been the preseason of opportunity for Auburn junior offensive guard Devonte Danzey and he’s hoping to use it to his advantage by making a move up the depth chart in 2014. With starting left guard Alex Kozan out for the season after having back surgery and his replacement Chad Slade missing several practices early in the preseason, it has opened up a door for Danzey and he’s excited about his opportunity.

“It’s just letting me know that my time is pretty much here,” Danzey said of his opportunity. “I get to play with the first team, the veteran guys. It’s just my second year, so it’s a lot of fun to play with the veteran guys, the guys that’ll potentially be NFL players.”

Improvement on the field is what the junior is shooting for this season after a tough first year on the Plains. Coming in with high hopes after being a standout at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas the year before, Danzey said things started out slowly and didn’t get any better thanks to an injury he suffered in January of 2013.

“I had a scope on my right knee, on my meniscus, and I sat out the first couple of games last year,” Danzey said. “I was still battling back from that. It was a lot of ups and downs, but it’s been a lot better, and I’m 100 percent now.”

Dealing with the injury last season was bad enough, but not playing when healthy was an even tougher pill to swallow for a player that saw his career take off in junior college. Struggling with the speed of the game as well as the physical nature of the SEC, he said it was almost too tough to deal with at times.

“I thought I was just going to come in and the job was mine,” Danzey said. “It was a reality check for me. I adjusted.

“Yeah, there were some tough days, some hard days,” Danzey added. “Some days when I had that mindset in the back of my head, like “Is this for me?,” but the players rallied around me and told me “you’ll get through it”. I’m glad I’m around the offensive linemen I’m around.”

Danzey works during the spring game

While Slade is expected to be back and will likely be the everyday starter for the Tigers, Danzey said he’s ready to jump in there when needed. Taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from veteran guys like Reese Dismukes and also Slade, he said that his focus is on doing everything he can to help the team.

“Playing next to Reese and learning from Reese is good, because he’s trying to help everybody,” Danzey said. “If you don’t know something he’ll let you know what you need to work on and stuff like that. In this offense I’ve never seen a player with his intelligence and ability to execute. And Chad, also, they’re both so experienced from all the years.”

Even being 100 percent physically doesn’t guarantee success for Danzey or any offensive lineman because playing the position at a high level is about much more than just being physical and athletic. It requires great technique and fundamentals to succeed in major college football, something Danzey admits he’s still working on under the guidance of Auburn offensive line Coach J.B. Grimes.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” Danzey said. “The smallest details, just a little 6 inches, it makes a big difference compared to 12 inches. He (Grimes) stresses so much that we’re going to be the best offensive line in the country, and the little things are what matter. Don’t look at the big picture; the little things are what make up the big picture.”

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