Birmingham, Ala.--While Carl Lawson has moved on to prepare for the NFL, the No. 55 will live on with incoming freshman linebacker Tadarian Moultry out of Jackson-Olin High in Birmingham after he signed with the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday.
One of the top players in the country at his position and a blur on the field, making plays from sideline-to-sideline for the Mustangs, Moultry’s ability to get after the quarterback is something that has the Auburn coaches primed to see him rushing the passer.
“They said they don't want to put too much pressure on me so I'll be coming off the edge and getting the quarterback,” Moultry said. “They need somebody to get the quarterback. In certain packages last year they couldn't do it because they didn't have the linebacker. Now they have a linebacker that can do it so I'll be doing a lot of practicing coming off the edge.”
A role that the 6-2, 230 Moultry finds exciting, playing the Buck linebacker position is something that opens up a lot of doors potentially in the future because of the importance of the position in the NFL.
Finishing with 133 tackles 11 tackles for losses, seven sacks, eight quarterback pressures and three forced fumbles as a senior, Moultry did it all for Coach Tim Vakakes in 2016 and he believes it’s just the start of what will be a great career for him on the Plains.
With good enough speed to play safety as a junior before moving down to play linebacker as a senior, Moultry transitioned to a pass rusher for both the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic as well as in the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio.
It’s a position that Vakakes said he believes Moultry can handle without a problem, but he’s not passing on the idea of Moultry helping out as a traditional linebacker as well with the Tigers.
“I think the type of athlete he is, he’s just a difference maker,” Vakakes said. “Obviously you’re trying to get your best players in the best positions, so if he can make an impact on the game as a pass rusher they’re going to try it. I still wouldn’t count him out from being back in space and being a linebacker that goes sideline-to-sideline.
“He tracks the ball so well and covers sideline-to-sideline so well. His quick-twitch muscles are just so different. He might be an impact player at Buck and he might be an impact player at linebacker. I guess it’s going to be determined by how heavy he gets. If he gets 260 pounds he’s obviously going to be a Buck.
“I think they’re going to experiment with some things and see where he can make the quickest impact. He might be a Buck as a freshman and he might bump back as a sophomore. They’re trying to get him on the field and see where he can be an impact player on day one.”
Physical enough to more than hold his own against the top players in the country in the U.S. Army Game as a pass rusher, Moultry now begins the process of getting ready to hit the ground running when he arrives at Auburn this summer. Hoping to get to 240 by the time he arrives, Moultry said his future coaches said they’re not concerned about his weight because of his physicality.
As for his high school coach, Vakakes said no matter where Moultry winds up on the scales it won’t impact his ability to play the game because Auburn is getting a guy that is the definition of a difference maker.
“He’s going to be 240-245 before August,” Vakakes said. “He’ll put on 15-20 pounds once he gets in a big-time diet and really gets in their weight program. I feel like we have a pretty good weight program here. We give them protein shakes and protein bars every day. They get it four times a week and year-round.
“He’s obviously gained a little bit of weight with us here, but when he gets the calories and the nutrition and everything they do, he’s going to start to get thicker. He has no body fat whatsoever and he’s almost 230. He’s long, he’s got such a long frame, the sky’s the limit.”