AUBURN - LaDarius Owens has been through a redshirt season, a position change and injuries. And now he's ready to have some fun.
Sophomore defensive end LaDarius Owens
Owens, a 6-foot-2, 260-pound third-year sophomore, is locked in fierce competition for playing time at defensive end going into today's scrimmage, Auburn's third of preseason camp.
"We have the most competition out there as far as on defense," Owens said after Friday's practice. "Everybody brings something different to the table. You are trying to get an edge by doing the plays better or recognizing things better. The defense requires more thinking, using different alignments and things to your advantage."
They are all working to learn first-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder's scheme as they work toward the Sept. 1 season-opener against Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome.
"I love it," Owens said. "Coach VanGorder puts you in a position where if you do your job you are going to make plays. It's a team defense. Everybody has to do his job like a puzzle piece. If you do your job, things will happen for you."
Juniors Corey Lemonier, Dee Ford are the starters at defensive end, and junior Nosa Eguae is close behind. Owens, junior Craig Sanders, sophomore Justin Delaine and redshirt freshman Keymiya Harrell are battling to get into the rotation.
Owens said Friday he believes he's in good position.
"I'm thinking I'm going to get a lot of reps," Owens said. "After the first scrimmage I started picking it up a lot. Coach has really been congratulating me. My role has been increasing more and more."
Head coach Gene Chizik was not happy with Friday's practice, but Owens said preseason practices have been mostly positive.
"Coaches have a certain way they like for things to be done," Owens said. "It's our job to do it. For the most part we've been having good practices, very competitive offensively and defensively. He's been very pleased with that."
For a video of Owens' interview, follow the link below.