Secondary Rookie Shows His Potential

Neiko Thorpe stepped up in his first college football game and led the Auburn Tigers in tackles.

Auburn, Ala.--Neiko Thorpe went into Auburn's season opener knowing he was going to play his first college football game and the true freshman notes he was a bit nervous.

However, by kickoff he was ready to go. "I got hit during our warmups and got my lip busted, but that woke me up and let me know it was time to play a football game," he says with a smile.

The wakeup call worked nicely as the true freshman cornerback saw extensive action as a backup and ended Auburn's 34-0 victory over ULM as the team's leading tackler with seven stops.

"I had fun out there," he says. "I got more comfortable out on the field as the game went along. In that environment, with all of the noise, you can't really hear your calls so you have to watch for the signals. I got better and better the more I played."

Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Paul Rhoads agreed with Thorpe and adds that the other freshman cornerback who saw action, D'Antoine Hood, had a solid performance, too.

Thorpe notes that he went into the game intent on not giving up a big play. "I was focused on making sure they got nothing behind me," he says. "If they made a catch, I just wanted to make sure I was there to make a tackle."

The freshman got some love from his teammates and the fans for a big hit he made in the fourth quarter. "It did feel good knowing that I was playing my assignments right and I made the play," he says. "Hearing the crowd go crazy made me feel really good."

Next up for the Tigers is a Saturday morning home kickoff vs. Southern Miss, a team that scored 51 points in its opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe. The Tigers will counter with a defense that blanked ULM on Saturday night.

"That shutout means a lot to us," Thorpe says. "It says a lot for the defense to not give up anything, not even a field goal."

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