While Cam Newton and the dynamic Auburn offense grabbed all of the headlines during the Tigers' run to the 2010 BCS National Championship, it was a defensive line that went about eight deep that allowed the Tigers to continually bring pressure and put its offense in good positions.
It appears first-year head coach Gus Malzahn will be replicating that plan in the near future.
Auburn landed some big-time prospects on the defensive line on national signing day, including 247Sports.com 5-star defensive end Carl Lawson, 5-star defensive end Elijah Daniel and 5-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams.
Talk about star power up front.
Lawson is the No. 1 weak side defensive end in the country, according to 247Sports.com, and he has the ability to step in and be a big-time weapon in new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's offense. The 6'3", 240-pounder has a very fast first step, is good with his hands and has the skills to beat opposing offensive tackles in a variety of ways.
He's the kind of player who will drive opposing offensive coordinators nuts. Considering the rest of the top-tier prospects joining him on the Plains, Auburn's defense could be doing more of that in the coming years.
Flipping Daniel from Ole Miss was huge for Malzahn. The 6'4", 250-pound strong side defensive end from Avon, Ind., is the sixth-ranked strong side defensive end in the country. It was a late-season coup for Malzahn and Co. to land Daniel, especially after his commitment to the Rebels. Combined with Lawson, look out SEC.
But it doesn't end there.
Adams, a 6'4", 310-pound beast in the middle, will force opposing offensive linemen to double-team him and free Auburn's defensive ends to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. The Dooly County, Ga., native visited Auburn over the weekend and completed the 5-star defensive line trifecta for Auburn on national signing day.
The three stars could lead a tremendous turnaround for a defense that finished last in the SEC in rush defense in 2013 at 197.58 yards per game. Despite the lousy rush defense, the talent is there. The Tigers return defensive ends Dee Ford, Nosa Eguae and LaDarius Owens, along with defensive tackles Gabe Wright, Jeffrey Whitaker, Angelo Blackson and Kenneth Carter.
The presence of the three 5-star defensive line studs will allow Johnson to rotate defensive linemen throughout the game and keep them fresh for a full 60 minutes.
The Tigers have all of the ingredients to be very solid up front in 2013, and the outlook got better on national signing day.