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'Impact player' - Marlon Davidson's energetic encore
Marlon Davidson, No. 3, works against Braden Smith in Auburn's third preseason practice while 'Coach G' observes..
Aug. 3, 2017

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - Sprinting to the next drill after a post-stretch team huddle, Marlon Davidson is a 6-foot-3, 282-pound example of enthusiasm.

“You’ve got to enjoy yourself,” Davidson said. “It’s a great day to be out there. Every day, I take it to get better and to have fun. That’s what it’s all about.”

Auburn’s first game is still a month away, but after the Tigers first three preseason practices, the scoreboard reads: Davidson 3, Grind 0.

“Especially the defense,” he said. “We’ve always had that juice about us. We take pride in what we do. That’s what Coach Steele brings. He always tells us to be like pros and that’s what we’re trying to be.”

Last season, Davidson became the first true freshman defensive lineman in 30 years to start in Auburn’s season opener. He started all 13 games, earning SEC All-Freshman honors.

“That’s big,” he said. “And people look at that. People look up to you no matter what and I’m going to make sure, whenever they look up to me, I’m going to be doing the right thing.”

More interested in team success than individual stats, Davidson embraces his role as a team leader, even though he’s a sophomore.

“I’m priding myself this year on leadership,” he said. “It’s not about making plays anymore. It’s about coming together as a team, and making plays together. That’s all that matters.”

Davidson, who had 6 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks among his 38 tackles last season, refuses to set a sack goal.

“Not at all. However many come, however many I can get, I’m fine with that,” he said. “I’m just going to make plays.”

Auburn’s defensive line replaces NFL draftees Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams. Davidson and tackle Dontavius Russell plan to duplicate, and perhaps exceed, the dynamic duo’s leadership and productivity.

 

 

“I’m taking a big step to try to fill their shoes and be even better,” Davidson said. “Me and Dontavius, we have a plan that we’re going to be the next two best ones there, and then Derrick [Brown] and Jeff [Holland], everybody’s coming along together. So it’s not like an individual on our D line, it’s the whole line.”

While working on footwork and hand placement, Davidson also plans to help Auburn’s freshman defensive linemen adjust to the exacting standards of associate head coach Rodney Garner, or ‘Coach G’ as he’s known.

“It’s hard. Every day, I get challenged,” Davidson said. “Today I got challenged. It’s nothing that I can’t overcome. Coach G is Coach G. Can’t stop that. I never knew what it took to play under Rodney Garner until last year, and it’s hard.

“He’s a great coach. I’ve never seen somebody like him, and I’ve been to everybody’s practices. There’s just something different about Coach G.”

Davidson’s smooth transition from high school football to the SEC, not to mention his ability to adjust to Garner’s demands, impressed Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.

“From the moment he got on campus, he didn't look like a true freshman,” Malzahn said. “He looked like a veteran just with the way he practiced, his work ethic, how tough he was. And he's a handful. He has a chance to be an impact player. I can't say enough good things about Marlon.”

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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