Blackmon Feeling Right At Home

Redshirt freshman linebacker Tray Blackmon talks about his season to this point and getting ready for his first Iron Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn redshirt freshman linebacker Tray Blackmon has only played in five games in his brief college career, but he's already made a lasting impression on Auburn fans and the Tigers' defense.

A player who earned a reputation for making the big play in high school, Blackmon has continued that trend at Auburn this season. Despite having a total of just 12 tackles, Blackmon has 10 solo stops, two and a half tackles for losses and leads the team with three fumble recoveries. Those are numbers that are impressive for a player learning the game on the run.

"Every practice, every game I'm getting more comfortable with the defense and learning the offensive schemes," Blackmon says. "I just try to find something to get better at every day.

"I just go out with my instincts and try to run to the ball," he adds. "It's all about effort. If you give full effort something good is always going to happen. You never give up on a play. That's something my old high school coach always said. If you give full effort you never know what's going to happen. The play's not over until the whistle blows."

Blackmon is quickly becoming Auburn's biggest playmaker on defense.

Rated as the nation's top linebacker prospect two years ago coming out of LaGrange, Ga., High, Blackmon redshirted last season and was suspended the first six games of the year for an off the field incident that happened last spring. Now back in good graces and already a starter, Blackmon says one thing really surprised him when he got on the field for the first time.

"How fast the game is compared to high school," Blackmon says. "It's a lot faster. Everybody out there is good and everybody is D-I athletes. It's not just a Tray Blackmon out there with a bunch of high school guys. It's all Tray Blackmons out there. Everybody is good athletes.

"You just have to play your role and do your part and contribute to the team," he says. "It's more like a team effort than in high school where a single athlete can stand out more."

Blackmon and the Tigers enter this weekend's Iron Bowl on a down note after losing big at home to Georgia, a game that the linebacker took especially hard being that the Bulldogs are his home state school. He says that the game was made tougher because they let down the seniors in their last game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"I think we played pretty hard," Blackmon says. "We just came up short. It hurt losing to Georgia being from Georgia. It hurts more knowing that we sent our seniors out like that. You can only put games like that behind you especially when you've got a bigger game like Alabama the next week."

Saying that he was just familiar with the Iron Bowl growing up just an hour up the interstate highway from Auburn, Blackmon has gained a newfound respect for the rivalry since he got to the Plains. That was cemented last season when he got a chance to watch it in person from the sidelines as the Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide behind a dominating defensive effort. This week Blackmon will have a chance to play in it for the first time and he says he can't wait.

"I heard about it a lot growing up but just being here and watching it I didn't get the true feeling of how big it was until I was in it," Blackmon says. "I think I still haven't gotten the full effect of it until I actually play in it. I'm looking forward to it.

"Everybody is talking about it," he adds. "I can just tell by the way they are talking about it how much they emphasize on how big this game is. It's a really big game. Like I said I had heard about it all my life but I didn't realize how big it was until I got here."

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