Defensive Lineman Hopes to Earn High Marks

One of Auburn's young defensive linemen talks about the start of the 2006 football season.

Auburn, Ala.--After making cameo appearances in three early season games last year, Sen'Derrick Marks may not be ready for a role as a star on the 2006 defense, but it looks like he will be a lot more than just a bit player for Tommy Tuberville's Tigers.

The defensive tackle from Vigor High in Mobile played briefly against Mississippi State, Western Kentucky and Ball State as a true freshman last football season, but was injured and received a medical hardship redshirt.

As he returned to good health, the defensive tackle also worked on growing bigger and stronger and he has certainly improved in those areas.

"Last year I remember I was 258 pounds at my first weigh-in," Marks tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I was rather small last year, but this year I am a lot bigger, stronger and I am faster."

How big is a lot bigger? "I have dropped a couple of pounds since two-a-days, but one day I weighed in at 296 and I ran well with it, but now I am down to around 290," he says. "My weight is good and I am ready to go."

His position coach, Don Dunn, agrees that Marks is ready to help the team in a more substantial role as the redshirt freshman battles sophomore Pat Sims for the starting spot vacated by 2005 senior Wayne Dickens.

"Sen'Derrick is doing well," Dunn says. "He still makes freshman mistakes because he's still a freshman. He and Pat have done some good things. We're not getting the consistency we need yet. One play he'll look great and the next play he'll slip a little. That is all going to come with maturity and experience.

"If you look at the tackles they haven't played a lot, even Josh (junior noseguard Josh Thompson)," Dunn points out. "If you go back and look at all his stats, he's played some and been in the game, but he hasn't been in consistently. That will come with Sen'Derrick. He's got a good future here.

"Sen'Derrick still needs to get a little stronger," Dunn adds. "He still needs to learn how to push through all the way until the end of practice, but again he is young. That will come."

Sen'Derrick Marks is shown during an August 2006 practice.

Marks (94) is shown in an August 2005 football practice prior to gaining more than 30 pounds.

Tuberville says he believes his players have gone through perhaps their toughest preseason since he arrived at Auburn for the 1999 season. "It's been tough, but it has been okay," Marks says of the two-a-day and one-a-day practices. "This is college football so you know it is going to be tough."

Marks says his brief playing time last year should be a bonus as he takes the field on opening night this Saturday at 6:45 p.m. CDT vs. Washington State. "I believe it will help me," he contends. "Last year it was totally different to me. It was a big change from high school. I kind of know the game speed and I think I will be calmer this year."

New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp says that he is counting on Marks to help the Tigers. "Sen'Derrick is a young guy who has got to do it every day," Muschamp says. "He has got to learn it is an everyday thing to be a good player, it's not just a sometimes thing and he is learning that."

The defensive tackle is looking forward to the season as part of the aggressive style of defense Auburn's new coordinator is teaching. "I like Coach Muschamp's scheme," he notes. "I feel like we are going to win a lot of games and a lot of people will be able to make plays. We know what he does works based on the teams he has been with before coming to Auburn."

Marks adds that he is eager to get the season started. "Everything is going good for me. I am still battling for the tackle position and I stayed healthy throughout the summer camp and two-a-days so I am looking forward to playing a game."

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