The Rise Of Auburn Tigers' Robert Dunn

Chris MizeranyCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2008

America, allow me to introduce you to Robert Dunn.

If you don't follow the SEC, you've probably never heard of him.

If you do follow the SEC, you may never have heard of him.

Dunn is a receiver for the Auburn Tigers. He has played a minimal role throughout his career. He started returning punts last year and did a serviceable job. Also, he played a good bit at receiver, being overshadowed by Rod Smith's breakout 2007 season.

He has never complained. He has always worked hard. I, for one, was never a big fan of his. He just never showed a lot on the field.

Then, one play last year, Dunn caught a ten yard pass from Brandon Cox. Sounds ordinary, right? Well it was, until he proceeded to break free from five defenders and turn that ten yard pass into a twenty five yard pass, forcing three defenders to finally drag him down.

It was then that Robert Dunn gained the respect of every fan in Jordan-Hare Stadium, and we started to take notice.

Dunn went on to play his role in the offense for the remainder of the season, never garnering any headlines, but working just as hard as anyone else.

Then this offseason, he was overshadowed by talks of Rod Smith, James Swinton, Montez Billings, Tim Hawthorne, and even true freshman Phillip Pierre-Louis.

He was listed at fourth in the depth chart to start this, his senior season on the Plains.

Dunn kept his head high.

This season, he has 197 all-purpose yards on eleven touches. Twenty one of those yards are from two receptions, six yards from two rushes. So where did the other 171 yards come from?

Punt returns.

Robert Dunn has been an electrifying punt returner.

His 24.4 yards per return average leads the SEC and is sixth nationally. His 171 return yards leads the nation.

Coming into the season, Auburn had not returned a punt for a touchdown since 1996, the nation's longest such streak. Dunn happily broke that streak in the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe with a 66 yard return for a touchdown. He returned another one for a score the following week against Southern Miss, only to have it called back for an unnecessary block in the back.

This week, against Mississippi State, Dunn will start at the H position at wide receiver.

Keep your eyes open for Robert Dunn. This season could be the culmination of many years of hard work.

Everyone loves a storybook ending.