Last Chance For Langenfeld

The Auburn defensive end discusses his preseason and his expectations for his senior season.

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive end Doug Langenfeld, the oldest member of the Auburn football team, has battled through tough times on and off the field throughout his life and is looking to be a leader of the Auburn defense during his senior season.

The 6-3, 254-pounder made an immediate impact for the Auburn defense in 2003 after transferring from Reedley Calif., Community College. He collected 16.5 sacks as a junior college sophomore, and he picked up at Auburn where he left off, collecting a sack and two tackles for a loss against Southern Cal, a forced fumble against Georgia Tech, and a sack against Tennessee. Langenfeld won the starting job for games against Western Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas, but was unable to contribute much of the rest of the season after suffering a rash of injuries, including a severe ankle sprain.

"Last year (before my injuries), we were doing so well defensively and I felt like I was contributing a lot," Langenfeld says. "And this year with a lot of guys from last year gone, and this being my senior year, I have to take it to the next level for us to be good on the D-line."

Seniors Bret Eddins (94) and Doug Langenfeld (98) will be counted on to anchor the 2004 Auburn defensive front.

Langenfeld was performing well through the first part of this year's preseason practices before getting bit by the injury bug once again. "I had a hip flexor during the middle of camp, and I tried to practice with it," he says. "I don't know if I made it worse. I've been getting a lot of treatment on it. I'm going to try to strengthen it back up, and it feels a lot stronger than it did two weeks ago so I feel good about practicing now.

"At first when I did it, I thought I pulled my groin," the senior adds. "I slept on it, and the next morning I couldn't pick up my leg. It got real tight and real sore, and I couldn't be real mobile on it so I was down for a while. It gets frustrating. You want to get better, but you can't because you risk more injury. If I'm just scratched up or a little bit nicked up then I'm going to practice. I hate to just sit and watch practice."

Langenfeld has been running closer to full speed at practice this week in preparation for the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. He says he'll be 100 percent by game time Saturday. If the game gets out of hand against the Sun Belt Conference opponent, Langenfeld and fellow senior defensive end Bret Eddins will likely watch from the sidelines while the younger defensive ends get some game action.

"(Defensive ends) Coach (Terry) Price has been giving the young guys a lot of reps to see how they're doing," Langenfeld says. "During the season, especially when the SEC comes, it's going to be tough. The first (SEC) game against (Mississippi) State...we don't know what they're going to come out there with so we've got to go out there and play hard and tough, do our assignments and listen to coaches."

Defensive end is one of the deepest spots of the Auburn football team, but many of the players who will be counted on this season haven't seen playing time in pressure situations like sophomores Stanley McClover and Chris Browder, as well as freshmen Quentin Groves and Neil Brown. True sophomore Marquis Gunn has limited playing experience. Price may play at least seven defensive ends against Louisiana-Monroe.

After coming into last season ranked No. 6 in the country and falling out of the Top 25 after season-opening losses to Southern Cal and Georgia Tech, Auburn will begin this season ranked No. 18 in the coaches poll and 17 in the AP poll. Langenfeld says he likes the expectations of the team this year much more than last year.

"I think that last year, everybody was too tight," he says. "The mindset of the team this year--everyone is kind of down-playing us so I think this team is going to try to prove to ourselves that we're not where everyone has us down on paper.

"I like being the underdog, because everybody always under-estimates you," he adds. "By that, you'll go to practice and you're going to practice your butt off trying to get better every single day, every single rep. It's better for us to be more of an underdog so we can sit back and analyze ourselves and be a complete team."

Being an underdog is something that Langenfeld knows all too much about. He grew up without a father and helped his mother raise his five siblings. Langenfeld wasn't offered a scholarship as a high school senior because of his struggles in the classroom, and was denied a spot as a walk-on to the Southwest Community College football team because he is blind in his left eye. It was only after sitting out two years and working in South Carolina that he got his shot at college football when he crossed the country to enroll at Reedley Community College. After totaling 22.5 sacks in two seasons he was finally recruited by Division I teams.

An ankle sprain or a hip flexor likely won't be enough to keep Langenfeld off the football field this season. "I've fought a long way to get here, and I can't see myself giving up now," he says.


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