Auburn, Ala.-When Xavier Dampeer chose Auburn in October of 2013 after getting an offer from the Tigers he had visions of being the guy to follow Reese Dismukes at the center position in 2015 and maybe even challenge for playing time in his first season on the Plains.
Even though he showed signs of being a good player after arriving in time for spring practice a year ago Dampeer wasn’t able to make a run at Dismukes’ job while he was on the way to winning the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center. Hoping his turn was on the way Dampeer instead had to face another strong challenger when Auburn moved Ole Miss transfer Austin Golson to the position in bowl practice as the Tigers prepared for Wisconsin.
Now locked in a battle with the former offensive tackle for the starting center position with the Tigers, Dampeer said for him it’s just another hurdle, but something that he feels like is going to make him a better player and person down the road.
“It has not been easy for me at all,” Dampeer said. “I’m not going to sit here and lie. It hasn’t been easy for me at all, but it’s not always the problem but how you deal with the problem or adversity. In my mind this is my personal adversity. I feel like I can help the team this year.
“It has been exciting,” he added. “I’ve had my ups and downs emotionally as far as the situation goes. My faith is in God and if it’s meant for me then I’m going to have it. If it’s not meant for me then I’m not going to get it. All I can do is keep working and let the chips fall where they may. If things don’t work for me then I won’t be down on myself saying I could have done this or than when I know I left it all on the table.”
A former defensive tackle, Dampeer has worked hard on improving the consistency of his snaps back to the quarterback in the shotgun formation. That’s something he said continued to be a problem for him until he went back to an old method and it has proven to be the key for him.
“I remember what my coach back at juco (Copiah-Lincoln) Robert McFarland always said,” Dampeer said. “I had the same problem in juco at one point so I made a little tweak in my stance. It’s like we’ve been saying in our meeting rooms “back to the basics.”
“I altered my stance and my snaps immediately got right,” he added. “I continued to work on it that way and got comfortable with snapping and stepping out of my alternate stance. When the spring came around I continued to work on it and during the summer I worked on my snaps every off day we had.”
With the battle still ongoing with Golson and a decision likely to come sometime in the next two weeks, Dampeer said for him it’s a great opportunity to help out the team if his name is called as the starter. If that doesn’t happen the senior said he’ll be ready when and if he’s needed.
“I feel real comfortable going in at center,” Dampeer said. “Like I said, I feel like I can help this team this year on offense. Whenever they put me in I’m going to go out there and do my job. If they call me out I’ll jog to the sidelines and wait to do whatever I’ve got to do.”
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