Who emerges on Auburn football’s defensive front in 2018?
SEC Country wants to tackle the best questions from Auburn football and basketball fans. Look for our Auburn Question of the Day most weekdays. Go here to see all of our previous answers.
Which Auburn underclassman plays meaningful snaps this season?
Basically who do you think emerges from Auburn's underclassmen at DT position to play meaningful snaps this season
— AUNerd (@AUSportsNerd) May 14, 2018
AUBURN, Ala. — When one sets out to become a sportswriter, covering meaningful games in which top talent is competing is the goal.
For me, covering Auburn’s defensive line during the past two seasons fits into that category as well. I expected Carl Lawson to dominate in 2016. I didn’t foresee Montravius Adams (who is also a great interview) to have the season he did. It was a blast to watch simply because watching talented athletes excel is fun.
Heading into last season, most people thought the Tigers would have a strong front again, but it was hard to say whether or not the group would thrive again without its two NFL rookies. Then the group exceeded expectations.
Rodney Garner has been one of the best defensive line coaches in the country, and he has built something special. Regardless of who starts for Auburn in 2018, 8-10 players will be able to step up and help.
Since Jeff Holland opted to leave early for the NFL, Auburn is looking to replace a starter. Here’s what we know so far:
Dontavius Russell is the guy. He chose to return for his fifth year. He has been consistent since he took on a starting role, and he is likely going to be more productive in terms of statistics during his final season. He was responsible for a couple of hits on quarterbacks last season that they’re probably still feeling.
Derrick Brown is ready for another big year. He came into his own last season and will be a leader up front again. Brown is kind of quiet when it comes to media, but his play speaks volumes.
Of all the guys up front, Marlon Davidson might be the one you want to pay the most attention. After his breakout freshman season, Davidson was hoping for another impact season as a sophomore. Unfortunately, injuries derailed him. Now he’s healthy and looking to make up for lost time. I wouldn’t want to be in his path.
So who will take over as the fourth starter? With fall camp a couple of months away, I’d be shocked if Nick Coe doesn’t end up as the No. 4 guy. Coe had a dominant spring game and has been taking significant steps in his development. He is humble, but his versatility allows him to do more for Auburn. Another thing Coe has going for him is he has been learning from guys such as Lawson.
After Coe, I would expect to see more of Big Kat Bryant. As a freshman last season Bryant received a taste of what it takes to shine on the Plains. He has added 30 pounds, which is a game-changer. At the end of the day, this group is going to dominate once again, regardless of who’s on the field.