Editor's Note: These lists feature our thoughts on the most important players for Auburn heading into the 2016 football season. We are counting down 16 key Tigers for the offense and 16 more for the defense as Coach Gus Malzahn's team prepares to face Clemson in the season opener.
Auburn, Ala.--One of the top defensive linemen in the country coming out of Dooly County (Ga.) High three years ago, senior tackle Montravius Adams heads into his final year with the Auburn Tigers still searching for that breakout season. Finishing with 44 tackles, two and a half sacks and three tackles for losses in 2015, Adams is hoping the best is yet to come.
Playing in 39 career games with the Tigers, Adams has 107 total tackles, but just six and a half sacks and 12 ½ tackles for losses during that time. By comparison, Nick Fairley’s monster season in 2010 he had 11 ½ sacks and 24 tackles for losses alone in 14 games.
Nobody is saying Adams has to even approach the numbers put up by Fairley, but for a player who was thought to be a monster impact player for the Tigers when he arrived, there is plenty still left to accomplish for Adams this fall.
Best Case Scenario: If Adams takes a big step forward he could set himself up for an all-star senior season and in the process give the Auburn defense the push it has been missing in the middle. With the athleticism to be able to dominate, Adams showing the consistency he has been missing would be massive for his growth as a player.
Worst Case Scenario: The dominating Adams that we’ve seen glimpses of in his first three seasons has just been that so far, just a glimpse. If that continues then it puts a lot of pressure on guys like Devaroe Lawrence and Dontavius Russell to become impact players up front. While Auburn has plenty of talented depth, defensive line coach Rodney Garner is still waiting on someone to emerge as the man for the Tigers.
Career Comparison: A highly recruited player out of high school, Charles Dorsey steadily improved and finished his Auburn career in 1998 with 65 tackles, four sacks and seven tackles for losses while playing alongside Leonardo Carson. Much like Adams, it took longer for Dorsey to find his groove on this level but he became a force for the Tigers in his final season.
Quote: "I feel like if we keep putting in the work then we will be an overall better defense this upcoming season,” Adams said. “When the starters go out then we have backups that could be starting. They go in and make the same plays. It is just good that we don’t have a drop off.”