Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn may be an offensive coach, but his Tigers can look forward to a bright future now that 5-star defensive end Carl Lawson has committed to the team. Fresh out of Milton High School (Georgia), Lawson is an explosive defensive player and the key to the team's future.
Look at it this way. When Auburn won a national championship under Gene Chizik, it was largely due to quarterback Cam Newton and running back Michael Dyer. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley was a great defensive anchor, but Newton and Dyer were the two key weapons.
Prior to this trio becoming a force, during Chizik's second season with the team, the Tigers went 8-5 and looked fairly average. Once Newton, Dyer and Fairley were added to the mix, they went undefeated and won it all.
But it all fell apart. Newton and Fairley were drafted into the NFL and Auburn went just 8-5 the following season. Dyer remained, but he lost his scholarship after a violation of team rules.
Auburn now needs to undergo a makeover, and Lawson playing excellently on defense is the key to the team succeeding down the road. Blessed with great speed and an explosively powerful first step, this young man will be a force on the Tigers defensive line, be it chasing the opposition for a tackle or punching through for a sack.
Of course, that all depends on Lawson's development. He has size at 6'3", 251 pounds, and he'll get much bigger after some time in the weight room. Just where he ends up, however, remains to be seen.
The fact is that Lawson is not just a football player. He's an athlete. His speed gives him the necessary bounce in his step to break through the offensive line, but his overall power means that the coaching staff can rotate his spot on the D-line if the scheme calls for it.
However, though his ceiling is high, Lawson still has a lot to learn. His vertical leap topped out at 26 inches, right around the middle of the pack for defensive ends. By learning the game on the college level and beefing up as necessary, that could change.
On the whole, Lawson is still one of the best men Auburn could have signed to man its defense. Combined with fellow defensive linemen Montravius Adams and Elijah Daniel, the Tigers are going to be a team to watch in the SEC in the next few years should these prospects live up to the hype.
That all depends on Lawson, and his commitment to excellence and Auburn is proof that he is ready not only to play, but to learn and have a key role in the Tigers' rise from the ashes.