Gandy Rewarded For Hard Work

Redshirt freshman Steve Gandy talks about his move up the depth chart and preparing to face Ole Miss Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.–-The promotion couldn't come at a bigger time for Waynesboro, Miss. native Steve Gandy. Second-team all season long behind starter Eric Brock at strong safety, Gandy got the word this week that he'll be starting when the Tigers take on the Ole Miss Rebels at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"I'm excited about that," Gandy says. "I have been looking forward to playing Ole Miss. It came down to Auburn and Ole Miss for me and I have a lot of friends that go to Ole Miss. I'm excited about playing my homeboys. I just can't wait to get it on.

"I look forward to playing Mississippi State and Ole Miss," Gandy adds. "This is like my Alabama game. I'm good friends with so many players on the team. You have to stay focused and know we've got to play our defense and not let all of that nonsense get carried away."

Gandy is perhaps Auburn's most physical hitter in the secondary.

Most games in the SEC involve a little behind the scenes trash talking and the Auburn game with the Rebels is no different. Players such as Timmy Duckworth and Quentin Groves have been hearing from Ole Miss players since Sunday and Gandy says that he has as well, but from good friend Garry Pack it isn't trash talking.

"I talked to Garry yesterday for about five minutes," Gandy says. "We really didn't talk about the game too much. His mom's birthday is Saturday and I told him he's not going to give her the gift of beating Auburn, but we didn't too much talk about the game. We just talked about how things have been going."

Thought to be a tweener coming out of Wayne County High, many assumed that Gandy would play linebacker in college after starring there in his prep career, but Gandy had other ideas. Working to be in the best shape possible when he arrived last fall, Gandy studied under Junior Rosegreen while redshirting and made a move in the spring. This fall he's steadily gotten better and now gets his shot to show what he can do on the field. Through seven games he has 17 tackles and one forced fumble.

"It's (his improvement) probably from a D to an A if you go like that," Gandy says. "I have improve a lot as far as cover skills and just learning the defense and knowing what I see and reading keys. I think I have improved a lot."

Defensive coordinator David Gibbs agrees with Gandy in that he's gotten much better in his year at Auburn and he knows that if he continues to improve he's got a chance to be very good for the Tigers down the road at safety.

"He's very explosive," Gibbs says. "He's a good tackler, smart, he's a football player. He's only going to get better. He's just a puppy. He's only going to get better with the more reps he gets. You don't want to throw him out there too early, but at the same time there comes a time and a place where everybody needs an opportunity to show if they're ready or not. Now is his time and we'll find out Saturday."

Many young players get down early in their careers when they don't get a chance to play right away. That's especially a problem for highly-recruited players such as Gandy, but he says that he hasn't been bothered with his lack of playing time to this point because he knows he's on the right track to success.

"It's easy to give up," Gandy says. "But, I believe in what I can do and what God's got for me. I just keep my head up. Either way it goes I just keep my head up and keep fighting and good things will happen."

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