Carrying the ball 13 times for 53 yards and two touchdowns, Lester was Auburn's leading rusher against the Gamecocks on a night when the defense was geared up to stop the run. Throw in a 43-yard kickoff return and you have yet another big night for the redshirt freshman from Lilburn, Ga.
Lester goes the distance against Ball State.
Through five games he has scored seven touchdowns, which leads the Tigers and ties him for the league lead with Florida's DeShawn Wynn and Chad Jackson along with Vanderbilt's Jeff Jennings. Coach Tommy Tuberville says his rise up the depth chart has been something to watch because it has all been about proving himself over and over again.
"The biggest thing about Brad is we know he's got the ability, but sometimes when you're a young guy that is working your way up and you have Tre Smith in front of you when you start the season and you have Carl Stewart, you really have to show what you can do," Tuberville says. "Not to the people in the stands and not to the people on TV, nobody but your teammates.
"You have to show them ‘hey, I can play. I can do it when we're behind, when we're ahead, when it's third and three and we need three yards. I can catch the ball. I can block'. He made a great block on a corner blitz last night and Brad is becoming more and more a strong part of this football team. You have to be accepted and I don't think there's any doubt he's starting to be accepted.
"I think it's very important that he has made his statement these first five games," Tuberville adds. "He's going to be a big part of our gameplan, but you've got to be able to prove yourself. I know what he can do and the people in the stands, but when it's time to cut that bread pretty thin, it's time to win a game, the players have to have confidence in you offense, defense and special teams. He's done a great job in special teams and he's a true team player. He's the type of player we want at Auburn. He's a guy that is going to do anything he can to help this football team win."
For Lester all he's wanted was just to have the chance. Injured for much of his short career with hamstring problems, he came out this fall looking to show he belonged in a revamped backfield. After getting off to a good start he again suffered a hamstring strain, putting him behind in the race for the starting job. Once he was healthy it didn't take him long to show what he could do.
Without a carry against Georgia Tech in the opener, Lester has been outstanding in the last four games, totaling 242 yards on just 36 carries. He has also returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and is currently averaging over 40 yards per return this season. All those things point to a bright future for the running back and Saturday night's play showed Tuberville even more good things from the young running back.
"I think he just made a much bigger step last night in the kickoff return and other special teams that he was on, blocking for Brandon when they had a corner blitz, running the football on short yardage and catching the football out of the backfield. He's going to be an all-around football player. He's really going to be special for us, but again you've got to earn the respect of your teammates.
"I don't think there's any doubt if you ask anybody on our football team about Brad Lester and they'll say ‘he comes to practice every day and gives it all he's got and when he comes to a game we know what to expect'. He's done it by his actions, not by talking."