By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn defensive lineman Montravius Adams figures he's improved his NFL stock this season, but he says he's still has some unfinished work as a college senior before taking the next step.
He's trying to win the Sugar Bowl.
"It would be real important for the seniors," Adams says. "But at the end of the day, it'll set up the guys next year for success."
Auburn carries an 8-4 record into the Jan. 2 game against 10-2 Oklahoma. The Tigers made it thanks to a six-game winning streak in the middle of the season. Injuries hurt the Tigers late, but coach Gus Malzahn said Auburn should be healthy again for the bowl game. Adams said just wait, that a healthy quarterback Sean White and a healthy running back Kamryn Pettway could help Auburn finish on a winning note.
"Being a senior and a leader on the team, that's something you have to take on and make sure everybody stays focused," Adams said.
Adams has already won accolades for his season. He was a Lombardi Award semifinalist, was a first-team All-SEC lineman, a second-team AP All-American and has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. His 39 tackles in the regular season includes 8½ tackles for a loss, an interception and two fumble recoveries, one of which he happily turned into a scoop-and-score against Mississippi State.
Adams and the Tigers practiced a week in Auburn before breaking for Christmas. The Tigers will report back as a team in New Orleans on Tuesday and resume practice Wednesday.
Adams said he has welcomed the work.
"It's really been fun. For me, it's more about brotherhood, just having fun, for this is the last time with my brothers," Adams said. "It's just having fun, but still being focused on our main goal of winning the Sugar Bowl."
Adams could have skipped to the NFL last season. But he said he wanted to return, and that if he played well "it would take care of the NFL part." He's projected as an early third-round pick by Fox Sports, a second-to-fourth-round pick by the Walter Camp website, a third-to-fourth-round pick by CBS.
Linebacker Tre' Williams vouches for Adams' play.
"Montravius is great, and I know firsthand because he’s right in front of me," Williams said. "Just knowing that I haven't been touched by any linemen this year, that gives a lot of credit to him because he takes on double teams and a lot of big men. So every tackle I make, I go up to Mon and say, 'I appreaciate it' because I know it’s really him that really helps me get that tackle."
Adams said he thinks he has improved his draft stock by "just taking everything more seriously and trying to get better at my craft, taking coaching, taking notice, watching film. Really, doing all the little things, the fundamentals of the game.
"I'm going to go at it in this Sugar Bowl game and try to have an amazing game there then move on to the next thing, which is the Senior Bowl.
"At the end of the day, when any player leaving a team it's all about leaving a legacy, so if he going to leave and I know I'm going, it's all about leaving that lasting legacy like something you can be remembered as. Why not be the last game in one of the greatest bowls ever?"
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine