Groves Staying Put

Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves talks about why he's staying for his senior season instead of trying his hand in the NFL.

Auburn, Ala.--After having one of the more successful seasons for a pass-rusing defensive end at Auburn with nine and a half sacks, junior Quentin Groves was thought by many to be headed into the NFL after Auburn's bowl game against Nebraska. The one person they should have asked was Groves though.

The junior says he's headed back to Auburn for his senior season because there is too much to accomplish and work on before he's ready for the next step in his football career.

"I have pretty much made up my mind that I'm coming back," Groves says. "I still want to be the all-time sack leader here at Auburn. It's a goal I think I can get if I stay another year.

"I don't feel like I'm ready for the NFL from a personal standpoint. There are just some things I have to do to get better like being more fundamental whether it's going all out to the ball or pursuing the play on a punt or even bending my hips inside to get to the quarterback faster. It's things like that I think I need to do before I get ready to transition to the league."

Groves celebrates one of his two sacks against Alabama that caused fumbles recovered by Auburn.

If Groves needed any encouragement to come back to school all he needed to do was look at Auburn's recent history to show him the way. Three years ago Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown and Carlos Rogers all turned down the opportunity to head to the NFL after their junior seasons and the move paid off in a huge way.

On the other side of that coin is Stanley McClover, Groves' closest friend. He decided to skip what would have been his senior season this year and instead is working to stay on the practice squad with the Carolina Panthers. While he's still living his dream, Groves says McClover tells him all the time to come back and that's what he's planning to do.

"I look at Ronnie B as a prime example," Groves says. "Coming out he probably would have been a second or third round guy. He stayed in and went number two overall in the draft. That's huge. That's a lot of money, everybody knows that. I look at Carnell and he would have went in the first round, but he wouldn't have went with the fifth pick. You have Jason Campbell and Carlos Rogers and Marcus McNeill who went in the second round.

"I just use signs from God because I'm a very religious guy," he adds. "I hate to use my brother in this way, but I look at Stanley. If he would have come back who's not to say he wouldn't be in the first round. He has been talking to me through this whole process. He has been encouraging me saying, ‘Q I don't want you to do through the same thing I went through.' That's the thing I'm really focusing on now. He made a mistake so I'm going to learn from his mistake."

With 22 career sacks Groves is currently second on Auburn's all-time list behind Gerald Robinson's 26 total. That part of the game is something Groves has always excelled at, but he says he wants to improve all parts of his game before he's done at Auburn. The biggest thing he wants to do is to become better against the run. That's always been a knock on him and is a label he wants to shed as a senior.

"That's something I want to prove, too," Groves says. "Many people say, ‘Oh, he's nothing but a designated pass rusher. He can only come in on third down for us and can't help our club.' I don't want to be labeled as that. I have been labeled as that since I have been here at Auburn. It is something I have worked on here at Auburn and gotten good at. Now I need to get great at stopping the run so people will look and see a complete defensive end."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories