AUBURN, Ala. — During his true freshman season for Auburn football, Marlon Davidson quickly built a reputation for chasing down plays from behind.
Opposing running backs and receivers several yards down the field found themselves hawked down by a teenager who was engaged with an offensive tackle seconds earlier. Davidson attributes that gift to his mindset — one that makes him feel he can do something truly wild.
“I feel like I can catch anybody,” Davidson said Tuesday. “I feel like I can run down a leopard or anything. Well, I might not do it, but that’s my attitude about it.”
Davidson brings that belief into his sophomore season, where he’ll return to the Auburn defensive line as one of the leaders. He started all 13 games for the Tigers last season, finishing third among defensive linemen in tackles for loss (6.0) and sacks (2.5).
The two linemen ahead of him, Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson, are off to the NFL.
“Being out there with great guys and playing football with Montravius and Carl Lawson, first-round draft picks, it never got to me like I’ve made it,” Davidson said. “I want to get where they’re at.”
This is a great hustle play by Marlon Davidson. He goes from rushing the passer at DT to making a big 3rd-down stop 15 yards down the field. pic.twitter.com/SzIstoqhBa
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) October 9, 2016
That puts even more pressure on Davidson, who feels it on his shoulders as the Tigers go through their third week of spring ball.
“It’s tough, man, because everybody sees what you can do,” Davidson said. “Everybody’s looking for that every play. Everybody’s looking for Marlon to make the play. And you just have to take that like you’re one of the impact players.
“Just like our coach was telling us today, become an impact player. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to take on that role.”
Many will look to Davidson to replace the production of Lawson in the 2017 season. Fellow sophomore and former blue-chip recruit Derrick Brown looks like the heir apparent to Adams on the inside.
But Davidson isn’t worried about all that chatter right now. He feels he and Brown have a long way to go before he can reach the heights of his former teammates.
“We’re still improving,” Davidson said. “We can’t get there yet. They had four years over us. We only have one in the books. We just try to take it as today and work toward that in the future.”
Fortunately for Davidson, he has that leopard-chasing mindset. It’s pushing him to take the next step this spring for Auburn.
“I have that go-getter attitude,” Davidson said. “Never stop until I lose breath, and that’s probably never.”