David, who sat out last season after having summer knee surgery, is expected to make a strong run at a starting cornerback job. The running back turned cornerback is ahead of schedule on his comeback from August 2004 ACL surgery.
Younger brother Kenny is carrying on the family running back tradition and is competing for the starting tailback spot after working on the scout team last year preparing the Tigers for each opponent. In 2004 he was not eligible to play at AU after transferring from the University of South Carolina.
Kenny played well in Saturday's major scrimmage and had the longest play of the day, a 61-yard run at right tackle. He picked up right where he left off last spring after transferring from USC when he had numerous impressive runs in spring training.
"It is very exciting having a chance to get back on the field and compete for a chance to get in the mix," Kenny tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I am looking forward to gaining my confidence and being able to run the ball again instead of being in the shadow."
Last year his coaches and teammates appreciated the running back's efforts on the scout team getting the AU defense ready for the next opponent. This year everybody should get to watch Kenny in action and older brother David is excited about that.
"Kenny has been waiting for this opportunity to step in and fill the shoes of some big-name players who look like they are probably going to be first round draft picks," David says.
"Seeing him in practice every day, he is getting better," David declares. "He is seeing the holes better and hitting the holes quicker. He is also blocking a lot of better. At South Carolina, and in high school, too, he wasn't a great blocker. Now he is becoming a complete back."
Kenny Irons is a big play threat for the Auburn offense carrying the ball.
David says he wants to be a complete player on defense and says that is now possible after having what he says was a successful surgery to repair damage to his knee that wasn't fixed properly by a previous operation when David was earning junior college All-American honors in Kansas. Despite realizing the knee was far from 100 percent last summer, he tried to compete on it and tore an ACL in preseason drills. That forced the defensive back to rehab throughout the 2004 season.
Although officially listed as a senior, David can appeal for a medical hardship extra year of eligibility for the 2006 season if he chooses to do that and finish his college career at AU with Kenny, who is a redshirt junior this season. However, the brothers are currently focused on what is happening in spring drills.
"I can see myself stepping my game up a little bit more this week," David says. "Last week, it was kind of mental because it was the first time I was back out on the field since last year. I can see in drills this week that it is coming back to me."
David wasn't allowed to participate in the scrimmage last Saturday. He may see some limited contact later this spring, head coach Tommy Tuberville says.
"The trainer and everybody are telling me, ‘David, it is going to take time because you are coming off a big surgery. It is not going to heal just like a paper cut.' Everybody is saying that you look great out there--you are running like you are 100 percent. I know what I can do, and I know I can do 10 times better than what I am doing now."
"I am looking to get my swagger back and get more comfortable so I don't even think about my knee," the cornerback says. "By two-a-days (in August), it should full strength. Right now I still hesitate while I think about it. Once that clears my head I will be better.
"I feel faster than I was last year because they did my surgery right this time," he adds. "Now I can use both legs. I am going to keep working extra hard in the weight room and the training room to keep my rehab going strong."
Like David, Kenny says he feels like he has improved his speed since last year.
"Last spring was good, but I was a lightweight then," Kenny says. "I weighed about 190. Now I am around 200 pounds.
"Being able to touch the ball last spring gave me a chance to see that I still had it and gain my swagger back," he adds. "I gave the coaches a chance to see what I had. Coming from South Carolina, I know they had thoughts about, ‘Is he really good or not?' Last spring gave me a chance to showcase some of my talent. Now I have an opportunity to step it up another notch."
David Irons is getting closer to full speed following knee surgery last fall.
Kenny says the decision to transfer from South Carolina to Auburn was a wise one. New South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has inherited a variety of off the field problems. Irons says he isn't surprised.
"I just went along with my business, but a lot of things went on while I was there with a lot of different stuff," he says. "I just tried to stay on the path that I went there to play ball and win a starting job, but obviously that wasn't happening so I am here now.
"I believe I made a very good decision. I believe my years would have been wasted if I had stayed over there at South Carolina. Coming here, and redshirting a year while working with Coach Yox (Kevin Yoxall), who prepared me mentally and physically to be able to compete for the 2005, made it a great decision to come here. I think I will be able to fit in to what is both a running offense and a passing offense."
With Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown expected to be taken early in the first round of the NFL draft, Irons is squarely in the mix to compete for a starting job this season. He says that he enjoyed watching the two star seniors last season.
"I learned a lot from those guys, just hanging out with them in the locker room," Irons says. "They had a great attitude in the meeting rooms and on the fields. With a guy like Ronnie, you heard a lot of people off the field saying, ‘He should be starting.' To him it was no big deal. His role was to be fullback to block. That was the role he took and he had no problem with it. Hanging around those guys you learn a lot."
Kenny says that he is excited about how David is coming along with the recovery from knee surgery. "He is doing really well," Kenny says. "Coach Gibbs (defensive coordinator David Gibbs) has him out there defending some guys in some situations where he has to turn his hips. He is still not confident about his knee yet so he will kind of slow up a little bit. Right now though he is doing better than I thought he would at this time of the year."
If everything goes according to plan, the Irons brothers could be key players when Auburn opens the season Sept. 3rd vs. Georgia Tech. Both seem intent on making that happen for their second fall on the Auburn campus.