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Grading Auburn's linebackers for 2017

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Grading Auburn's linebackers for the 2017 season

Updated 6:03 AM; Posted 6:00 AM

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Gallery: Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis

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By Tom Green

tgreen@al.com

With Auburn's season in the rearview mirror, AL.com is taking a look at how the Tigers performed at each position during the 2017-18 season. The seventh part of this 10-part series takes a look at Auburn's linebackers.

Linebackers

Grade: A-

Overview: Auburn's linebackers continued to flourish under defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and position coach Travis Williams, both of whom were in their second year in their roles. The veteran-heavy unit helped bolster one of the nation's top defenses thanks to team leaders Tre' Williams and Deshaun Davis, as well as juniors Montavious Atkinson and Darrell Williams, and redshirt sophomore Richard McBryde.

The Tigers got production from all five of those experienced linebackers, with Davis, Tre' Williams and Darrell Williams finishing among the team's top-six tacklers -- and Davis leading the entire defense in that category.

Top performer: Deshaun Davis. The redshirt junior finished the year with a team-best 82 tackles, including 37 solo stops. He also had 6.5 tackles for a loss, including 3.5 sacks, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery. Davis' development has been so impressive that both he and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele have joked that Davis could be (or already is) the Tigers' defensive coordinator.

Biggest surprise: Davis (again). The fact that Davis had the kind of season he did wasn't the surprise, but few likely expected him to lead the team in tackles this season.

The meaning of Deshaun Davis' graduation poem to mom

Deshaun Davis' entire career, both academically and athletically, has been about proving the doubters wrong.

High point: The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Auburn's linebackers helped contribute to a dominating defensive performance against then-No. 1 and then-undefeated Georgia on Nov. 11. The Tigers held the Bulldogs to 46 yards rushing and 1.44 yards per carry in a 40-17 win at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Davis had five total tackles and one of Auburn's four sacks of Jake Fromm, while Tre' Williams had four tackles and Darrell Williams had two as Auburn flummoxed Georgia for 60 minutes.

Low point: Tre' Williams' shoulder injury. While Williams finished his senior season with 50 tackles, the season was marred by a nagging right shoulder injury that cost him three games and parts of others, including most of the SEC Championship Game. The injury robbed the senior linebacker, who had 25 tackles through the first three games of the season, of what was expected to be an All-SEC caliber season.

Who's returning: Auburn is only set to lose outgoing senior Tre' Williams, while Davis, Darrell Williams, Atkinson, McBryde, Chandler Wooten and KJ Britt.

Why Malzahn compares 3 LB signees to Travis Williams

All three of linebackers to sign with Auburn on Wednesday are under 215 pounds or less

Who Auburn adds in 2018: The Tigers signed four-star linebackers Zakoby McClain and Michael Harris during the early signing period, as well as three-star prospect Josh Marsh, though he is expected to play defensive back at Auburn. The Tigers could add another linebacker by National Signing Day.

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