Sears Has Big Shoes To Fill In New Role As Starter

<!--Default For Auburn is to ignore-->Auburn, Ala.--With the kickoff to Auburn's season opener against Louisiana-Monroe only five days away, sophomore linebacker <!--Default NodeId For Kevin Sears is 1427109,2004--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:1427109]>Kevin Sears</A> says that he's anxious to get the season started.

"After watching Virginia Tech and USC Saturday night, it just fires you up and makes you want to play," Sears says. "I got pretty fired up watching the game. I'm ready to play. College football season is here now--it's game week. We're getting a little tired of banging each other up so we're looking forward to getting out there and hitting around."

Sears will be stepping into the starting role at strongside linebacker, a position vacated by the departure of Karlos Dansby (6-3, 243 pounds) to the Arizona Cardinals. Sears, who is 6-4, 244 pounds, and Dansby have similar builds, and although Sears is still unproven, the Auburn coaches are looking for him to fill Dansby's role on the defense.

"My coach (Joe Whitt) already told me he's counting on me to make some big plays," Sears says. "Karlos Dansby made play after play last year, and I'm at the same position so I'm looking forward to it.

"I learned a lot (from Dansby) because obviously Karlos is a great player and always made plays," adds Sears. "I'm thankful to have that year behind him to watch and learn the things he did."

Sears runs a drill in spring training for his position coach, Joe Whitt (right).

One game in particular that Sears is looking forward to this season is Oct. 2 against Tennessee in Knoxville. Kevin's younger brother, Arron Sears, is fighting for a starting job for the Volunteers at offensive tackle.

"I've already got the Tennessee game marked on my calendar, so does my little brother," Sears says. "He's been talking some stuff to me so I'm waiting to go on up there. Our family always has something to say about that game so we're looking forward to it. My parents will definitely be rooting for both of us. It'll be like any other parents--split jerseys, split shirts or something."

Arron Sears was recruited heavily by Auburn, but selected Tennessee on signing day where he played in seven games last season as a true freshman. Arron and Kevin's cousin Colin Sears played at Auburn from 1997-2000.

Kevin saw action in 12 games last season as a redshirt freshman, collecting 14 tackles in a reserve role. With Auburn's first game just days away, he's ready for the kickoff of the 2004 season as a starter. "Everybody's finally getting their mind right, realizing that it's finally here," Sears says. "We didn't work hard all summer for nothing, so it's time to play ball."

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