AUBURN, Ala. — Quindarious Monday knows what he’s stepping into when he takes the field for Auburn football practice for the first time this week.
Monday will practice on the same field as Tray Matthews, Stephen Roberts and Nick Ruffin — but he’ll never play in a game with them. That trio of senior safeties will be gone after the Peach Bowl.
For the early enrollee from Atlanta, that means the door is wide open for playing time as a freshman in 2018.
“I’m going to come in and grind. … I’ve got to fill their shoes,” Monday said Sunday after his official visit to the Plains. ” I mean, they did a great job this year, so I’ve just got to come next year and do way better than they did.”
That’s a lofty goal for Monday, an Under Armour All-American safety. The 4-star playmaker has even bigger dreams at Auburn, and the journey toward them will begin Monday with his first practice.
“[Auburn defensive backs coach Greg Brown] told me I had an opportunity to come in and play as a freshman,” Monday said. “That’s something I look forward to, because I know I’m trying to make it to the league. So by starting my freshman year, it’ll get me closer and closer to getting to the league.”
Matthews and Roberts started almost every game at safety over the last two seasons for the Tigers. Ruffin was a key depth piece. Their departures will leave Auburn with few options at the position. Jordyn Peters and Daniel Thomas have starting experience, but they also could be moved to other spots in the secondary.
Monday could make some of those decisions easier by proving to be college-ready in his first season at Auburn. Enrolling early will give him an advantage in achieving that goal.
“It’s important because I can come in and learn the defense real quick, so basically when we start to get up and running, I’m going to know everything,” Monday said.
Monday wants to add at least 15 pounds over the next several months as he eyes a role on Kevin Steele’s defense in the 2018 season.
First, though, he’ll have to officially get going at Auburn. He plans to practice this week but will return home to Atlanta on Thursday to sign his letter of intent with the Tigers.
Those early practices will be crucial for Monday, who isn’t short on confidence as he looks to attack the vacancies in Auburn’s depth chart in the near future.
“I might mess up a few times, but when I get my rhythm, it’s going to be hard to stop me,” Monday said.