Groves Healthy and Ready for Clemson

ATLANTA – Clemson fans are just beginning to learn about Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves. But by the time the Chick-fil-A Bowl is over New Year's Eve, they may know him a lot better.

Groves, the school's all-time sack leader, is set to lineup against a rookie who's never started.

Over his four years, Groves has amassed 26 career sacks but in all likelihood he would have had plenty more if not for a foot injury this year. He sat out two games and has started only six which is a major reason se hasn't registered a sack in last four played games, which is when the injury occurred.

But he insists he's healthy now and ready to play. However, surprisingly enough, he says his eyes aren't lighting up at the thought of playing against someone with virtually no experience in redshirt freshman Chris Hairston.

He likes to point to Auburn's offense as a reason why he's not taking Hairston for granted. Auburn has three true freshmen starting on the offensive line and two redshirt freshmen starting on defense.

"I wouldn't say that they're lighting up," Groves said. "The thing is, I don't look at age and I don't look at guys. I look at what I can do and the strengths of my game. If you look at our team, we have a true 19-yearold freshman playing on our side, so it speaks volumes on what freshmen can do.

"(Hairston) has a scholarship just like I have a scholarship. I respect every guy I play against and I don't see my eyes lighting up. I don't look at guys like that. I just go in with the same mindset every game that I'm going to play as hard as I can as fast as I can for the football team."

Even before Groves played one snap for the Tigers, head coach Tommy Tuberville knew there was something special about him.

"He was just a skinny kid with a lot of speed and talent," Tuberville said. "I don't think he understood just how much talent he had. Quinton has really grown up mentally and physically over the years and has worked very hard to become a good football player and then he turned into a great football player.

"He's gotten better each year and he's got a great personality, and I think his wife has something to do with that. He got married last year. He's got a future in front of him and I look forward to watching him over the upcoming years."

Groves came out of high school as one of the more highly regarded players on the defensive side in the country. But he soon realized once on campus that if he wanted to be as dominant as he was in high school that he was going to have to get much, much better.

And that's what he did.

After redshirting his first year at Auburn, he burst onto the scene in a big way as a redshirt freshman. In just his sixth game, he registered three tackles for loss against Louisiana Tech.

Two games later against Kentucky, he had five tackles for loss and four sacks. From that point on, opposing offensive coordinators had to account for his whereabouts.

"It seems just like yesterday Coach Tubs was in the living room with a trench coat on in Greenville, Mississippi, and saying, ‘Quinton, we're going to get you out on The Plains and do great things.' " Groves said. "I thought it was all recruiting talk. But I came as a guy who was high on his horse and I got humbled pretty quickly. That's when God really showed me what I could be right then.

"To be tied for the all-time sack leader speaks volumes of what (Auburn) has done for me and what I've done for them. I thank God that he came to my living room that day or I wouldn't be here."

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