Austin Golson: Front and center for Auburn
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Austin Golson remembers his first SEC game when he lined up as a rookie in Ole Miss' offensive line.
"I was like 17 years old when we played LSU and he was like 23. I was like, 'Golly.' My whole body was getting beat up. But I enjoyed it," Golson said.
"I thought I did well, but I'm ready for a new start and I'm glad to be here at Auburn."
Oh, yes, his new start at Auburn. Golson has gone from a high school All-American in Prattville to an Ole Miss guard and occasional tackle, circa 2013, to a transfer vying for playing time as Auburn's center in this 2015 season. He sat out last year, by NCAA rule, after transferring, was named to the SEC academic honor roll and says he learned the ways of playing center by watching Reese Dismukes, who graduated after winning the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center. Now, he's vying for playing time with Xavier Dampeer.
Golson said he was ready when Auburn asked him to change positions.
"Let's do it because I've already played all other four positions," he said. "I'm ready to go."
Golson is aiming for Auburn's season-opener against Louisville on Sept. 5 in Atlanta, but he won't be a rookie when it comes to playing for an SEC team.
"I just hope it helps me here, the experience of playing in a game in front of 80,000 people," Golson said. "I'm glad I do have that experience. It probably would be a little tougher if I didn't, to transfer to center to take over that role."
Golson said his offseason work this summer "was probably the most important two months of the year, besides fall camp, of course.
"I think it helped me a lot get snapping every day, getting consistent level and just getting my steps down and learning the playbook."
And working on those shotgun snaps. "During the spring it was a little iffy, but I tried to snap at least 50 snaps every day this whole summer. I feel completely confident in the way that I snap now. I've just got to keep practicing and keep getting it better and better."
Now, he'll be asked to set the offensive line blocking assignments each play in Gus Malzahn's fast-paced offense.
"I love it because we go fast. The defense doesn't have too much time to think. You just get on a roll."
Golson said he's learned how to make the correct calls by watching a lot of game tape and studying the playbook. "Just focus in on the little details the coaches give me, and try to learn to the best I can. You have to do extra film time, and I realize that, so I try my best to do that."
And he says he wants to set an example.
"All the past centers here were leaders, and I want to be a leader, but we need all five of us to be leaders as well. We all just buy in together. If one guy is having a down day, pick him up. We all just need to lead each other."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine