Auburn Football: Is Corey Lemonier the Tigers' Next Defensive Star?

Matthew BrennanCorrespondent IIOctober 13, 2011

Heading into the 2011 season, one player that was touted as a potential star was sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier.

The highly-touted Lemonier saw some playing time as a true freshman in 2010, and also was praised by the coaching staff for an excellent showing in training camp. The 6'4", 229-pound Lemonier was a highly touted recruit and appeared to have all the natural tools to be a playmaker opposite Nosa Eguae.

Lemonier started off slow while the defense struggled around him, but he’s begun to make an impact over recent weeks. His motivation may have been increased by some uncharacteristically pointed comments from head coach Gene Chizik.

“It was not even close, yes,” Chizik said to the Anniston Star about Lemonier’s performance against Florida Atlantic. “It’s the first time in four games I’ve seen him look the way he should look as a football player, as a defensive end at Auburn.”

Since then, Lemonier has used his natural ability to become a playmaker on defense for the Tigers. The Florida native has recorded three sacks and a forced fumble over his last three games.

He enters Saturday’s game tied for second in the SEC with 4.0 sacks. Lemonier is also in the conference’s top 10 with 7.0 tackles for loss.

The Auburn defense had a lot of talent to replace over last year’s undefeated squad, but it appears that Lemonier is one player who can be relied upon as a stalwart over the next few seasons.

Still only a sophomore, Lemonier is already pretty good and should only get better with more experience. If he keeps up with his current level of play, he may be the next Auburn star to move from the Tigers defensive line to the NFL.