After being a partial academic qualifier in 2000 with only practice time under his belt, Dansby emerged in 2001 and showed a true talent for the game. In his first year competing at the college level he started nine games and played in all 12. In those games he recorded 59 tackles with 46 solo tackles, eight tackles for a loss, one forced fumble plus five interceptions, a number that led the team.
Karlos Dansby will be able to regain his fourth year of eligibility in 2004 if he is making normal progress to his degree and if he chooses to return for a fifth year of college.
As his first year statistics show, Dansby has a knack for getting to the football. "It is something that I really learned," he says. "My father is a coach and he always used to get on my case about getting to the ball. He motivated me a lot to play hard and, by playing hard, being around the ball is something that just seems to fall in place."
Along with being around the football, Dansby has justly earned a reputation as a big hitter. "It all depends on the attitude of the team," he says when asked if he goes on the field with the attitude that he wants to be very physical. "If I see that everybody else is trying to rattle them and trying to get ready for the game, then I feel like I want to go out there and hit somebody pretty hard."
Dansby says his immediate success on the field has been mainly due to hard work. "I've progressed a lot. Coming out of high school I used to work hard, but I knew if I worked hard I would be able to be successful out here also. I knew it was going to be a big step for me, and I believe I made a great transition as far as getting adjusted and everything."
Karlos Dansby is considered the biggest hitter on the Auburn defense.
The junior says he has learned a lot since he has been at Auburn. And he says that intelligence is the most important tool that he takes with him to the gridiron on game days. "You've got to be very smart on the field because teams like to trick you a lot," he notes. "They like to do little things to throw you off if you read your keys wrong."
Dansby, a junior in business, is staying busy this summer with classes and workouts. He is taking world history and statistics and says they are both pretty tough classes. Like his teammates, the weight room is where he is spending a lot of his time.
"Coach Yox (strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall) is demanding a lot of time so we are trying to motivate each other and trying to get stronger and faster," he says. Asked how tough the workouts are, Dansby smiles and says, "He already proved his point the first two days. So I think that everybody's going to believe in his plan and his program and go out there and try and make something happen."
Along with all of the time spent working out, Dansby is having to learn the new scheme employed by new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. The junior says he likes what he sees.
"Chizik put in a great plan," he says. "I feel like this defense is what we should have been running from the start because of the type of talent that we have on this team. We have so many people stacked up in positions, but we didn't have enough people to play in the perfect positions for them. But now we do."
With Chizik's new scheme comes a new home on the field for Dansby. In the spring he made the move from playing whip last year to strongside linebacker this season. "I know I can still play strong safety, but for the sake of the team I want to try and win the national championship and if moving to strongside linebacker is what I've got to do, then that is what I want to do."
Dansby was a star basketball player in high school who had college offers in two sports.
Along with a new scheme and a new position, Dansby may very well have to take on the new role of a team leader this season. Even with only one year of playing time behind him, Dansby is aware of how important that role is. "That is a big thing," he points out. "It's a lot of weight to carry. I can't say anything about being a leader, but if people see it in me to be a leader then I'm willing to step up to the challenge and take that role."
However, Dansby adds that he is not sure this defensive squad will need defined leaders. "I feel like if everybody comes together we really don't need a leader--we just play as a team, just play together."
Dansby says he saw positive changes in the defense during the 15 days of spring drills. "We progressed a lot during the spring. Everybody's getting stronger. Everybody's flying around to the ball. Everybody's hungry right now. That is what I like to see--everybody flying around, jumping around, jumping on each other, celebrating after the tackle and just trying to have some fun man. It's a party."
Based on spring drills, the defense should be the strength of the 2002 Auburn football team. "I believe our front seven is pretty strong this year," Dansby says. "Our back four, they're pretty strong too, but I believe that out of the two the front seven might be stronger than the back four. But they (the secondary) are molding together themselves and everybody's trying to learn the defense. But like I said, if we play together we're going to be alright."