July 26, 2013
Elijah Daniel tracks down a quarterback at Avon High School last season
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - They have yet to put on pads and be tested by the ferocity of a full-speed Auburn football practice. But defensive ends Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel and defensive tackle Montravius Adams have already made it clear they're not ordinary freshmen.
All three are 5-star signees who could have signed virtually anywhere they chose. They were lured to Auburn by defensive line coach and associate head coach Rodney Garner and by what they saw as a promising future for first-year head coach Gus Malzahn's program.
Senior defensive end Nosa Eguae knew they were different the first time he saw them.
"Those guys are talented," Eguae said. "Those guys came in with college bodies. We're all looking forward to it. They're all eager to learn."
On signing day, Lawson was listed at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, Daniel at 6-foot-4 and 250 and Adams at 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds. All have been through strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell's summer conditioning program.
They'll join their teammates next Friday for the first practice of preseason camp.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says Russell has praised the work done by the three freshmen. That's good news for Johnson, considering his ongoing search for more explosive pass rushers off the edge. But he cautions they still have to show they are ready to compete in college football at the highest level.
"He was very complimentary of those guys," Johnson said. "We are hopeful they are going to make contributions and make them pretty immediately. We just have to wait and see. You don't want to put too much pressure on a freshman. They are very capable, talent-wise. We do have some areas where we think their ability is going to be key.
"Montravius has made some great progress, too. But until you get them on the field and start working with them in the big picture, you just don't know."
Here is a look at each of the three players:
DE Carl Lawson
Milton (Ga.) High School
Milton coach Howie DeCristofaro: "I knew from the first day he put on pads that he could be as good as he wanted to be, and he's worked as hard as he can since then. Carl works harder than any player I've ever coached. He's missed only one day of workouts in two years. He would call me over the weekend to discuss the next team we were playing and how they looked on film, what their strengths and weaknesses were."
Malzahn: "He's a phenomenal player. He's a phenomenal person. He is an Auburn person. He loves Auburn, and his family loves Auburn. I'm very excited to have him on board."
Dooly County High School, Vienna, Ga.
Dooly County coach Jimmy Hughes: "He'll still have a lot in front of him to learn, but he's bringing a skill set that probably just a handful of kids in the country have at his size. To say that he is going to go in and start or play the majority of the snaps, I think would be a reach. I think he can come in and contribute. With the way they roll these defensive linemen in and out of the game now, I would be surprised if he wasn't in the rotation at some point."
Malzahn: "I think this is going to be my eighth year to coach in college, and I don't know if I've ever seen a bigger, more athletic guy. I really feel like the sky is the limit with him. Coach Garner had a great relationship with him that really helped get him here. He's a very good person with a great family."
Avon (Ind.) High School
Avon coach Mark Bless: "Obviously he has the physical tools to step in and play immediately. Speed and quickness are two of his biggest assets. One of the things you notice immediately is his takeoff. When he's in a three-point stance and pops off the ball, that is something that caught the eyes of the college coaches."
Malzahn: "Coach Garner had a relationship with him for a long time. We knew that we were in need of defensive ends, and Coach Garner got him here (to visit). We've known about him for a while. He can flat-out rush the passer."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter:
Montravius Adams has uncanny quickness for his size