Position Change Brings Fresh Start

This young defender talks about his move to linebacker and the transition of moving closer to the line of scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--Don't blame Karibi Dede if he's a little lost to begin spring practice this year. After playing free safety each of the last two springs on the Auburn campus, the sophomore has been moved to one of the outside linebacker spots for the Tigers this time around. A physical player that likes contact, but just never seemed comfortable in the defensive secondary, the sophomore says that he's getting used to playing closer to the line of scrimmage and thinks he'll like the move.

"It went okay," Dede said. "I just have to hit the classroom and take it out onto the field. It's not too bad because Coach Joe Whitt is working with me and the other linebackers. Travis Williams knows things pretty well. Watching Travis has helped me a lot. He's right in front of me and does it like it's supposed to be done. I can almost watch him and mimic him and see what I need to do."

A redshirt sophomore, Dede started six games for the Tigers last season at free safety before Will Herring took over the starting role. Dede finished with 27 tackles and three passes broken up for the season. His best games came against Georgia Tech and LSU when he had six tackles in each contest.

Karibi Dede and Quentin Groves work on filling running lanes during Tuesday's practice.

A defensive end for much of his high school career growing up in Virginia, the 6-1, 206 Dede was always too quick off the corners for the players trying to block him and he got good at rushing the passer. He was also a pretty physical player that was good against the run. Dede says that playing on the line of scrimmage back then should really help him ease into the transition of playing linebacker for the Tigers.

"I think that helps me," Dede said. "I think the biggest adjustment for me is going to be learning to use my eyes. Coach Whitt always talks about using your eyes and how you play the game with your eyes. Being closer to the line of scrimmage everything is going to move a step quicker and I think the biggest thing is going to be for me to use my eyes. As far as reacting and running to the ball I have good speed for a linebacker. I can move, but I have to be able to see it first. My biggest adjustment is going to be seeing the game at the speed I need to see it."

Currently second-team behind Williams at weakside linebacker, Dede says that getting to watch Williams work in practice and watch film with him has been an eye-opening experience. The only starting linebacker returning from last season's team, Williams has shown that it doesn't take the biggest player to become a good linebacker in the SEC, you just have to show the will to never be blocked and never be defeated.

"I don't think size is always the most important thing," Dede said. "Coach Whitt talks about leverage and playing with your pads low. The low man wins. I feel like in the game of football is doesn't always amount to size.

"I think if you play within yourself and you play the right angles and you stay low, that you can beat the offensive guy. Travis just shows that it doesn't matter who lines up in front of him because he just terminates them and gets it done."

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