Ford Ready To Ride In Second Year

Auburn sophomore Dee Ford talks about his first spring with the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--For Auburn sophomore defensive end Dee Ford, the 2009 season was a learning experience coming from high school football into the SEC. Making it even more difficult for Ford was the fact that he was an undersized player trying to make plays against Division I offensive linemen.

At 215 pounds, Ford would be considered somewhat undersized to play linebacker in the SEC, but thrown into the mix at defensive end it was almost criminal. To his credit Ford responded and showed signs of life in a reserve role as he learned the ropes behind senior Antonio Coleman.

"I had to learn to use my hands, which is an advantage," Ford says. "When I get my weight on I will know how to use my hands and I'll be stronger. I had to learn how to be a technician and use my technique."

Up 20 pounds to 235 this spring, Ford says he's hoping to be around 250 by the time the Tigers take the field in September to open the 2010 season. While he's much bigger, Ford says everything about gaining weight has been a positive for him with the exception of one thing.

"Twenty pounds feels a lot different," Ford notes. "I can just imagine 40 pounds. I can lean a little bit and play the run a lot better. I'm the same speed as I was.

"It was easier than I thought," he adds about gaining the weight. "It's fun, but I'm bloated a lot."

The added weight is only part of the equation for Ford this spring though as he comes back with some experience on the field earned last year. With an idea of what to expect on the field, he said it has made him a more comfortable player.

"It was big because you've got to get past your nerves," he says. "Playing in front of a lot of people, if I was redshirting I would be just another freshman this year. Getting that experience last year, it will be nothing to me."

That year on the field also meant working behind one of the top defensive ends in Auburn history in Coleman. Now working behind Antoine Carter, Ford said the on-the-job training he got last fall is invaluable entering his second year.

"It meant a lot to me," Ford says. "Most everything I learned from A.C. Now it's a new A.C. and I'm learning from him. Playing behind Antonio was real good. He made a lot of plays and I was able to see it firsthand."

With three years remaining and a world of talent to work with, Ford is hoping to make some noise this spring as the Tigers work towards the A-Day Game on April 17. Knowing that Carter is likely entrenched in his spot, the sophomore said he'll just work to be the best he can be.

"My goal is to hit the weight room and stay second team," Ford says. "The biggest goal for me is for coach (Tracy) Rocker to trust me. If A.C. goes down I want to be able to take that position and maintain it throughout the season."

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