AUBURN, Ala. — Kenny Flowers did not see it coming.
"I didn't have too great of a spring," Flowers said after Auburn's lopsided A-Day Game. "I did a lot of improving, you know, but I didn't see this coming."
With Auburn's high-powered first-team offense stealing most of the spotlight at Saturday's A-Day Game, the junior linebacker had plenty of opportunities to fly under the radar and make plays for the second-team defense.
Seven tackles and a sack later, Flowers walked off the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium as a surprise Defensive MVP.
After making several impressive tackles as a member of the White (second-team) squad in the first quarter, Flowers switched to a Blue squad jersey in relief of projected starters Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy.
Flowers made an instant impact after the move, getting to second-string quarterback Jeremy Johnson for the game's first sack and later stopping a pair of runs in the backfield.
"We expect that from everybody in this playbook," cornerback Jonathon Mincy said. "Coach [Ellis] Johnson is going to put every player in a position to make plays. Today, he was just on it. That's something that you enjoy seeing out of your linebackers."
Flowers, whose father is former Clemson and Atlanta Falcons player Kenny Flowers Sr., had an interesting journey from his high school days to becoming the surprise star of Auburn's defense in the 2014 A-Day Game.
The junior from Lilburn, Ga., went to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas right out of high school and immediately went on a road that few in the junior college ranks travel—he was redshirted at Hutchinson.
"I didn't like redshirting at JUCO, but it turned out well for me," Flowers said. "I just thought about my future. More years for me and more experience down the line."
He developed into a 3-star recruit at Hutchinson as a redshirt freshman, and, after Auburn's coaching staff change, decided to join the Tigers in January 2013.
But Flowers had to wait before having to make an impact on the Plains. He appeared in 13 games for the Tigers last season but only recorded four tackles as he worked on learning the ins and outs of Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 scheme.
"Jumping into all of this was a big move," Flowers said. "I had a lot of learning to do—a lot of mental preparation, getting to know the defense. The linebacker is the quarterback of the defense. I needed to learn a lot, and I wasn't at the mental level last year."
Flowers said he worked on the mental side of his game over the last few weeks and showed it Saturday.
Now, at the completion of his first spring at Auburn, the versatile Flowers looks to get in the rotation at both the middle and weak-side linebacker spots.
"We expect a lot out Kenny Flowers as a [middle linebacker]," star Robenson Therezie said after Saturday's game. "They might move him to [weak side] sometimes, but he's getting great with both positions. I feel like today was a great day for him to open up and just fly."
While Flowers might have been surprised with his breakout performance Saturday, his teammates were not, and they feel confident in his ability to get more playing time in 2014.
"We knew he had it in him," safety Johnathan "Rudy" Ford said. "Kenny came out and showcased his skills. He did an excellent job out there today, and we feel great about Kenny Flowers."
Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
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