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Spotlight on Deshaun Davis

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One of the key contributors from 2016 to watch for in 2017 is linebacker Deshaun Davis. After seeing limited action, primarily on special teams under Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp, Davis blossomed into a 13-game starter last season. He finished the season as Auburn's 3rd leading tackler and No. 3 in tackles for loss. Coming out of high school, Davis was known to be fundamentally sound but he missed his senior year due to an injury. Rated as a 3-star recruit, Davis has proven to be one those players who doesn't reach his full potential until college. Much like the way his position coach (Travis Williams) did it as a player, Davis has earned his right to play from his work ethic and his starting position from his desire to be the best possible player.

The Play...

 photo A-Day - Def D Davis_zpsp2jummez.jpg

  On this play Deshaun Davis sets the defense before the snap. The key to success on this play is the D-lines ability to keep the opposing line off of the LB's. Montavious Atkinson slides outside to cover the perimeter, should the RB bounce the play outside. Carlton Davis rolls up into the box for additional run support. Deshaun Davis works past the center, attempting to block Davis out of pursuit.

  Atkinson makes the initial contact with the RB still in the backfield. Carlton Davis arrives second, avoiding the pulling guard. Deshaun Davis arrives last to clean up the play, assisting on the tackle for loss. Last season Auburn improved from No. 81 in run-defense to No. 27. It was Auburn's highest ranking against the run since 2010, when the Tigers were No. 9 nationally.

  Stopping the run will always be a major priority on defense. Size, speed and athletic ability are essential components of being able to stop the run but situational awareness and gap responsibility are just as important. Coach Kevin Steele has placed a premium on his players knowing their responsibilities and fits as well as being fundamentally sound in tackling. Deshaun Davis has become a prize pupil when it comes to the mental game of playing linebacker.

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I appreciate Deshaun's passion and the thump he brings from that middle backer spot. Still, some of his best work may just be pre-snap.

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