Carl Lawson handled the recruiting process in the most professional way possible. The 5-star defensive end from Milton, Ga. didn't get caught up in the hoopla, pomp or circumstance.
Originally committed to Auburn, Lawson wavered a bit when former Tiger head coach Gene Chizik was dismissed in November 2012. But after meeting with first-year head coach Gus Malzahn and the new Auburn staff, Lawson reaffirmed his commitment with little fanfare shortly before national signing day.
That kind of maturity translates to the football field, where the 6'3", 245-pounder will be looking to make an immediate impact for his new team this fall.
Just look at Lawson's highlight film above. It's clear that he is quick off the ball, can simply run around offensive tackles and get to the quarterback in a hurry.
But freshmen are freshmen, and there still will be an adjustment period for Lawson in the SEC in 2013 after blowing up high school offenses.
What are some of the adjustments that Lawson needs to make before making an impact on the Plains?
First thing's first, he needs to learn to stop the run a little better.
This is nitpicky for sure, because it's not like Lawson is bad against the run. He's just better as a speed-rusher off the edge in passing situations.
Playing the run better is something that will come with time, and getting into a college conditioning program and working with defensive line coach Rodney Garner will certainly help his game. But getting a jump start on things now will certainly benefit Lawson before he arrives on campus.
It's one thing to make high school offensive tackles look silly; it's another thing altogether to embarrass offensive linemen in the SEC.
If Lawson gets a little bigger and a bit better with his hands, he will round out his game and be well on his way to becoming a full-fledged star for the Tigers.
Does he need to get bigger? Maybe a little.
Don't get me wrong, at 245 pounds, Lawson is certainly capable of holding his own in the SEC. Former LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo was 245 pounds soaking wet, and he was named a second-team All-SEC member following the 2012 season. But Mingo may stand up and play linebacker at the next level. Lawson, on the other hand, has the frame to play either position in college.
Other than getting bigger and stronger, it will be about acclimation for Lawson before toe meets leather—acclimation to the speed of the game, the size and agility of offensive tackles and the schemes that opposing offensive line coaches will use to neutralize him.
Lawson is an instant impact player in the SEC and will be a part of the Tiger defensive line rotation in 2013. How much of an impact he makes remains to be seen, but don't be surprised to see him specialize as a third-down pass rusher at the start of the season and evolve into an every-down player as the season progresses.
Carl Lawson will be a star at Auburn. The only question is whether it will be sooner rather than later. After watching his film, I'm banking on the former.