The Return of the Auburn Defensive Line for 2010

Kevin McGradySenior Writer IJune 16, 2010

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 27:  Mike Blanc #93 of the Auburn Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 27, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tracy Rocker has a little Auburn history in his background. He played on some pretty good teams at Auburn and won a tremendous amount of personal recognition for his feats on the football field. Some rank him pretty high on the all time best list of players at Auburn University.

He is back at home now. Coach Tracy Rocker is working on bringing the defensive line prowess of the 1980s back to Auburn in year two. While he was a great player at Auburn, his biggest contribution might be ahead of him.

Coach Rocker worked frantically to put together an effective defensive line in 2009. He was working with a group that was short on experience and long on injuries. This could well have been a blessing in disguise.

All of that hard work and bad luck combined to make a situation where lemons could be made into lemonade. Many young players were forced to produce well before their time. This experience could easily be a big asset for Auburn in 2010.

Most pre-season prognosticators are throwing accolades toward the Auburn offense and their endless parade of talent. There is little doubt that the offense will not disappoint this high level of expectations. In my opinion, the offense is a story that everyone knows.

The untold story is developing on the plains as this article is being written. It is a story of talent, hard work, and success. It is a story in the making that will foretell events yet to come. It is a story that will have an effect on SEC and National college football in 2010.

Defensive Tackle:

Mike Blanc at 6’4” 290 lbs is a senior that wants to make a splash in his final year. He will anchor the line with senior experience. 

Zach Clayton at 6’3” 295 lbs is a senior that looks to overcome an injury plagued season in 2009 and prove his ability in 2010. He plays defensive tackle and defensive end. He could really be a game changing type of player in 2010. 

Nick Fairley is 6’5”, 315 lbs and will attempt to make his junior year a launching point for a future career. His potential is only limited by the amount of hard work he puts in. He has put in a lot of hard work and it shows.

Derrick Lykes is 6’2” 281 lbs sophomore who will provide depth along the defensive line. He got some valuable experience in 2009. 

Jeffrey Whitaker is 6’3” annd 310 lbs. A true freshman who will look to earn immediate playing time. The quicker he picks up his assignments and technique, the more he will play. His talent ceiling is almost unlimited.

Kenneth Carter is 6’5” 270 lbs and is another freshman who could see action at defensive tackle and defensive end. This young man will be a versatile addition to the Auburn team. His athleticism will make him a formidable foe for opposing offenses.  

There are other players in this group that will get some playing time through the season. With technique and execution improving in this second year, this position will be sound and effective from game one this season.

Defensive End:

Antoine Carter is a 6’4” 260 lbs senior and an experienced pass rusher that will be very effective. He simply will not be denied access to the offensive backfield.

Michael Goggins is 6’3” 260 lbs. a senior and an experienced run stopper. He has experience and ability. That should translate into production in 2010.

Joel Bonomolo is a 6’3” 250 lbs junior transfer and a powerful pass rusher. He is aggressive, athletic, and even acrobatic in his pursuit of the player with the ball. No offensive lineman wants to face this young man.   

Nosa Eguae is a 6’2” 250 lbs red shirt freshman that spent a year learning the system. He had worked his way into the 2009 playing rotation when an injury ended the season for him before the first game. 

Dee Ford is a 6’4” 240 lbs sophomore that was set to red shirt in 2009 when injuries forced him to play early. He gained valuable experience and is ready to produce in 2010.

Craig Sanders is a 6’4” 240 lbs true freshman that enrolled early to attend spring training. If his spring practice results are any indication, he has a very bright future.

There are others in this group that could get playing time if they don’t decide to red shirt to allow them to add strength and conditioning.

Unlike the 2009 season Auburn has depth across the defensive line. It is a healthy mixture of upper class-men with true freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and sophomores. For many this is their second season with Coach Rocker and technique with their execution is vastly improved.

These players have been working tirelessly to become better for the 2010 season. Every indicator points toward this being a very effective defensive line with plenty of depth to rotate and stay fresh no matter how long they are on the field. The intent is to pursue the opponent with intensity, for every play, in all four quarters, without diminishing effect.

It is very likely that Auburn fans will be pleased with the result.