Little Known Tiger Earning Respect For His Play

Cornerback Kevin Hobbs has been Auburn's biggest surprise this season on the defensive side of the ball.

Auburn, Ala.--Among the players on Auburn's defense you have high school All-Americans as well as other high-profile high school football standouts and even a player like Dontarrious Thomas, who had just one Division I scholarship offer coming out of Perry, Ga., High School. However, even Thomas arrived as a much more well-known player than the surprise player of the 2003 Tigers, sophomore cornerback Kevin Hobbs.

A walk-on from Tampa, Fla., who spent a season at Division I-AA Texas Southern before deciding to try his fate at Auburn, Hobbs has been a steady performer for the Tigers. With a team leading two interceptions and a knack for being in the right place at the right time, he has won the respect of his teammates and coaches with his play on the field this fall.

"Kevin Hobbs has certainly stepped up to the plate and done his part without question," says Gene Chizik, who is Auburn's defensive coordinator. "Kevin Hobbs could have had two more interceptions Saturday and been the leading interceptor on our football team and he's a walk-on that just popped up on the scene. I can't say enough good things about him."

Needing someone to step up this fall at cornerback to allow Junior Rosegreen to remain at safety, Chizik gave players like Lamel Ages, Montae Pitts and Gerald Williams a shot to win the cornerback position. When none of those worked to his liking, Chizik turned to Rosegreen at corner and Hobbs took notice. Working hard and getting better every week, Hobbs finally earned his chance for playing time against Vanderbilt and came up with Auburn's first interception of the season. Since then he's been a regular in the lineup and says that he feels better every time he gets on the field.

"I feel more confident and more comfortable in the system," Hobbs notes. "I think my teammates and coaches have a lot of confidence in me. That really boosts my confidence a lot. I wouldn't say I'm a veteran. I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot more big games to play."

Hobbs is shown after making his second interception this season against Western Kentucky.

This Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Hobbs and the Auburn defense face one of the top passing offenses in the SEC with quarterback Kevin Fant leading the attack. Auburn's problems against the Tennessee Volunteers should serve as a good motivational tool for the Tigers this week as they had trouble defending the pass and let the Vols get back in the game the Tigers led 28-7.

"It was a learning process for us to show us that we were up, but we have to finish," Hobbs says. "We have to play 60 minutes. The Tennessee game we played the whole game, but late in the fourth quarter we had a couple of letdowns. That just taught us that we have to play for 60 minutes and finish things out."

Averaging 257 passing yards per game with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, Fant has been a dangerous weapon for the Bulldogs this season. The senior is fourth all-time in Bulldog history in passing yards and can get an array of receivers involved. The most important of those is Justin Jenkins, who is first in the SEC with 618 yards and seven touchdowns receiving this season. Hobbs says this will be a big change from last week's challenge of stopping the running game of Arkansas.

"It's not very difficult because my first job is to cover as a defensive back," Hobbs says. "My first job is to stop the pass and help on the run. This week it's going to be more of what I'm originally supposed to do anyway, which is stop the pass. As a defensive back you love this type of game because it's what you want. They are going to throw it most of the time instead of running it like Arkansas. It should be real fun."

No matter how much time he gets on the field this weekend or the rest of the year, Hobbs has shown that he has what it takes to get the job done. While he hasn't been perfect, Chizik points out that Hobbs has done everything he can to make his mark on this team and he only gets better with time.

"He has a feel for the game and the more he stays out and plays the better he gets," Chizik says. "He gets better as time goes on. You go back to the Tennessee game it seems like right when they see him out there they go after him and throw a few deep balls on him. He's always in the right place. I can't say he's not. I'm not saying that they haven't completed balls on him. I am saying he's certainly held up his end of the bargain."

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