Already with nine sacks on the year, Lawson is just two and a half away from Nick Fairley’s single-season record of 11 ½.
Currently just outside the top 10 with Corey Lemonier, Quentin Groves and Reggie Torbor tied for ninth, Lawson’s impact has been felt far and wide for the defense this season said Coach Gus Malzahn.
“Carl has been one of our top players and one of the best players in college football,” Malzahn said. “He has stayed healthy this year and has been a big-time impact player. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he accomplishes that.”
Staying healthy has been one of the keys for Lawson, who has provided impact plays since arriving on campus out of Milton High in Alpharetta, Ga. It has been staying on the field that has limited his overall impact on Auburn’s defenses the last three seasons.
With four sacks and seven and a half tackles for losses his freshman season, Lawson was set to become one of the premier players in college football before an injury in the spring of his sophomore season ruined those plans.
Back on the field in 2015 he got off to a huge start in the opener against Louisville with a sack and two tackles for losses in the first quarter and a half until suffering a hip injury. Even though he returned to action later in the year he was never the same, forcing him to put in even more work to be ready for this season.
That work included doing yoga in the offseason to improve his flexibility, something that has paid off for him this season.
Now ready to chase Fairley’s record and try to help the Tigers finish the season on a high note, Lawson’s game has been a big reason why Auburn’s defense has put together a great year to this point. Now if he managed to reach the top Malzahn said he will have put himself up there with another of the great defensive linemen to ever play on the Plains.
“Well, they are both impact players,” Malzahn said of Lawson and Fairley. “The offense has to be aware of where they are at. They can change a game. He has done that for us a couple of times this year with huge sacks, especially in the fourth quarter of games that could go either way.”
Even if Lawson doesn't get the record his defensive coordinator said the defensive end has done everything they've asked of him and more this season.
“The biggest thing is probably how mature he is and what kind of student of the game he is," Kevin Steele said. "He’s very, very serious about football. He studies football like Kevin Greene did when I was with the Panthers.
"He’s got notes, he’s taking notes, he’s watching film, he’s asking questions, he studies the opponent, he knows how to watch film. That’s probably the biggest thing. Obviously the talent on the field is there and has been there, but just how serious he is about each game.”