10. Defensive lineman Marlon Davidson
Why he’s here: Davidson was believed to be the first true-freshman starter on Auburn’s front line in program history and quickly showed he belonged. Through 12 regular-season starts, the Greenville, Ala., native validated his hype by exceeding expectations.
No play, opponent or SEC atmosphere overwhelmed Davidson. Playing alongside Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson wasn’t too much for the 6-foot-3, 273-pound lineman, either. In fact, Davidson’s energy, maturity and mindfulness required attention from opposing offensive linemen, which then opened more opportunities for his All-SEC teammates (he also recorded the line’s second-highest tackle total).
“It’s kind of simple. He comes out to practice to get better, so in the game every week his progression goes up,” senior Adams said of Davidson. “I mean, that’s great as a freshman and great for any player. He’s doing all the right things from film to practice, and working on his fundamentals. I think the sky’s the limit, and I think he’s going in a positive direction.”
The newcomer undoubtedly deserved the All-SEC Freshman team selection he earned in December. Moving forward, it’s not unrealistic to assume Davidson will be one of the best to play on the Plains.
“Well, he’s very, very intelligent. He’s very mentally mature. He’s very physically mature, but the biggest thing is the guy is emotionally mature,” defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said. “It’s like he’s been around here for three years. He has a huge motor. I mean, the guy plays relentless. He plays from sideline to sideline and does his job before he has to release and do that.”
— Auburn Football (@FootballAU) October 29, 2016
2015-16 season stats
Next season: Davidson will be a sophomore, but he’ll be a starter and leader — on the line and Auburn’s defense as a whole. He’ll be a key factor in the Tigers’ success as they try to uphold this season’s defensive turnaround in the future.
— Auburn Football (@FootballAU) December 8, 2016