The Big Picture

This former Crimson Tide fan is now a hard-hitting defender for Auburn and is proud to say that is heart is now orange and blue.

Auburn, Ala.--Karlos Dansby made a surprising decision in February of 2000. He chose to sign an athletic scholarship to play college football for Auburn.

After all, one of Dansby's prerequisites before choosing a school was he wanted to play for a winner. The Tigers were coming off a 5-6 season in Coach Tommy Tuberville's first year on the job. Alabama, which happened to be Dansby's early favorite of the two schools, was the other college in the running for his services. And all the Tide had done the year before was win a SEC Championship, beat Auburn for the first-time ever at Jordan-Hare Stadium and it was already being talked about as a favorite to win the National Championship in 2000.

But the six-foot-three, 215-pounder saw a few things in Auburn that in his mind the other school didn't offer. "It was the family environment," Dansby says was one of the reasons he chose the Tigers. "The environment around the players. The attitude around the players trying to get better and win a championship. Coming from Woodlawn, we didn't make it too far in football, but I knew what hard work was and I knew this was going to be hard work getting (to this point)."

Dansby is excited about Saturday's game.

The second reason was his new head coach gave him an opportunity to play where he felt most comfortable--on the defensive side of the ball. Despite having ideal size for a receiver and excelling at that position at Woodlawn, Dansby says he has always had a defensive mentality. "Coach Tubs gave me the opportunity for me to do what I wanted to do," he adds. "He put no restrictions on my playing ability, so I came here to play ball."

Dansby was an All-State linebacker at Woodlawn but is playing the whip position for Auburn, where the sophomore has flourished this season. He leads the team in interceptions with four and has already been named the Defensive Player of the Week twice this season by the AU coaches. The first honor came after his first-career start against Vanderbilt when he had four tackles, an interception which he returned to the one-yard line that set up a touchdown and a pass deflection on a crucial third down during the Commodores' final drive.

His second honor came this past week after the Georgia game when he had six tackles, an interception and was in on the game-saving tackle which preserved the Auburn victory. Dansby would like to get a third honor, but he would much rather clinch the Tigers' second-consecutive SEC Western Division title, which they can do with a win over their archrivals from Tuscaloosa.

The same archrivals who are making Dansby look like a genius for seeing the big picture in 1999 and choosing to play for Auburn, a team that is making a championship run for the second-consecutive year while Alabama is trying avoid a second-consecutive losing season.

Dansby is now playing his best football of the season after getting off to a slow start due to a knee problem. "The more I play, the more comfortable I am out on the field," he says. "There is no doubt that I am getting better each time I go out there. I think the defense as a whole is improving, too. We have just about everybody back and healthy and I am excited about that."

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