Auburn, Ala.-- Paul James was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player of Auburn's annual A-Day football game on Saturday, a sure sign that he is well on the road to recovery after missing most of the 2016 season with a knee injury.
James finished the day with four tackles for the Blue team. One was as sack and two others were tackles behind the line of scrimmage as he helped limit the White team’s offense.
He was able to do it despite being what he described as “85 percent” of full speed as he continues his recovery process, which he notes has him on schedule to be full speed long before the opening game vs. Georgia Southern.
Last year, after transferring from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi, he played in just three games before being injured.
With the departure of Carl Lawson, James has seen more time at the buck position, which requires a player with the skills to rush the passer. “I just feel like its another place we need to step up in or maybe even be better than Carl,” he said.
“Me and Carl talk all the time,” said James. “I watch a lot of film on him so I’m ready to take on that role.”
James noted that there is no pressure in replacing Lawson. “Coach Garner just wants us to come in and work every day,” he said of his position coach, Rodney Garner. “He wants us just focusing on being better and focusing on the next play.”
Following the spring game the head coach, Gus Malzahn, said the defense has made progress since the opening practice in March. James agreed.
“I think we’re really good,” the redshirt junior said. “We have got a lot of work to do, but I like where we’re at right now.”