Skip to main content Skip to footer
Auburn's Byron Cowart says 'Coach G' showing him the way
April 4, 2016

Byron Cowart used his speed for six quarterback hurries in 2015
Auburn's Byron Cowart used his speed for six quarterback hurries in 2015

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- Defensive end Byron Cowart says he grew up last season, more than the stats, more than the hype of being the No. 1 high school signee, more than his playing time will ever show.

Cowart said the intensity of defensive line coach Rodney Garner made him realize what it takes to be a first-rate college player.

"I need it coming from just me and my mom, a single-parent home," Cowart said. "I need a strong man figure to coach me hard and be on me."

Garner demanded much Cowart, just as he does everyone. "He told me from the football standpoint 'I'm going to coach you hard, but off the field I'm going to love you just like you was mine.'"

And the athletic Cowart said Garner did just that.

"It meant a lot. He was just teaching me the business side of football," Cowart said.

Cowart came to Auburn with the headlines. He played in 13 games and had six tackles. But he's received good reviews this spring practice in his second year as a college player. He says he learned things along the way.

"I'm just trying to take Coach G's coaching and get better. You don't want to get passed up. You want to take the coaching and get better, I feel like I'm getting there, but I'm not there yet."

The reality of college football set in last season.

"It was hard in the beginning, but I came in to learn," Cowart said. "I didn't come in to boast and brag 'I'm going to this, I'm going to do that.' I just came in to learn. It was hard, it was an adjustment, but I learned everybody at this level is good."

Garner said the recruiting hype met reality in practice.

"These kids have to come to the realization that 'you know what, I got to compete in practice and I got to perform in practice,'" Garner said. "I don't care about stars. Nobody cares about stars. You think that guy lined up across from him cares about stars? It probably motivates him more to beat his butt.

"He's going to be fine. It's a growing process. It's maturing. It's competing."

Byron Cowart, he's No. 9, leads off defensive line drills in this video...

Cowart said he needs to work on his fundamentals and "I'm trying to improve my mental toughness that's the biggest thing and just being able to move on to the next play. If you mess up on the last play don't let it affect the next play because if you let it affect the next play it will affect the whole team."

He said bowl practice last December gave him a chance to impress.

"It was very important, I was kind of learning if you aren't going to put anything in don't expect anything out. I was learning how to get comfortable and the game starting slow down for me. The bowl practice week was important for me."

Auburn has a lot of promise in its defensive line, and especially so at end with Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson -- a maturing Byron Cowart.

"We have lot of potential," Cowart said. "No one is trying to get too high or get too low. Coach G says you either getting better or getting worse. We are just trying to get better each and every day."

Cowart says he now understands the work it takes to improve.

"Everybody goes through it," he said. "Everybody goes through it differently. Everybody goes through tough times. If it was easy, everyone would be in the NFL."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter: 


Buy Tickets

BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE! is your home for buying tickets to Auburn athletic events.

Auburn Tigers
Official Store


Shop for your favorite items at the Auburn Tigers Official Online Store.

Tigers Unlimited, Join Today! Click for more information