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Dampeer talks altercation with Williams


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Xavier Dampeer opens up about 2015 altercation with former Auburn teammate D'haquille Williams

Tom Green | tgreen@al.com

As Xavier Dampeer works toward the next step in his life, the former Auburn offensive lineman has no regrets about the path that has led him to this point.

After a three-year career on the Plains that saw him play in just 12 games while missing most of the 2015 season with a broken jaw, it would be easy for Dampeer to look back on his college career with frustration. That just isn't Dampeer's style, though.

"Nothing about it's been easy, but I'm glad I came here," Dampeer said. "Because life is not easy. Life is going to throw a lot of hardballs and life is going to throw a lot of hard punches. I'm going to get knocked down sometimes, but it's about how you get up.

"I just take everything I learned here, because it's prepared me for life, so I'm glad I came here because it's all about the bigger picture."

Sometimes those punches are quite literal.

That was the case late on the night of Oct. 3, 2015, when Dampeer was involved in an altercation with then-teammate D'haquille Williams at a downtown establishment in the hours after Auburn's win against San Jose State.

Xavier Dampeer pro day 40.JPGAuburn offensive lineman Xavier Dampeer (52) works out during Pro Day Friday, March 10, 2017, during Pro Day at the Auburn Athletic Complex in Auburn, Ala. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)

The incident resulted in a broken jaw that cost Dampeer the rest of the season, as well as the dismissal of Williams from the program by head coach Gus Malzahn. Dampeer, speaking to the media for the first time since the incident, opened up about what unfolded that night and how it shaped his outlook.

"We were just out one night, you know, and long story short, things took a turn for the worst," Dampeer said. "I was trying to be a good teammate, but you know what happened, my jaw wound up being broken. That's all water under the bridge now; there's nothing I can do about it."

That altercation between Williams and Dampeer occurred after Williams was kicked out of Skybar following a series of events that included Williams cursing out security guards and throwing multiple punches while being escorted from the establishment.

Dampeer said there was "probably not" anything he could have done differently that night, though he has thought about it at length in the 17 months since.

"I'm at peace with that," Dampeer said. "It took a minute when that situation happened and stuff like that. I had to put my pride to the side. I wish I would have handled things differently and all that, but at the end of the day, what happened, happened. There's nothing I can do about it now. There ain't no sense in dwelling on it. Dwelling on it's not going to change anything, but it could affect what's to come."

As Dampeer reflected on his Auburn career Friday afternoon, he admits that night was a pivotal moment of his stay on the Plains. He said he hasn't really spoken with Williams since then, and although it cost him the final eight games of the season, Dampeer looks at the silver lining that came with it.

"It's all about perception," Dampeer said. "I could take that little past memory right there and just be scarred for life about it and say I should've did this or I should've did that, but in all reality of it, I could look at it in a positive way too."


How Auburn players tested at the Tigers' pro day

How Auburn players tested at the Tigers' pro day

Auburn held its annual pro day on Friday with 17 former players participating in workouts for NFL personnel.


That positive was an additional season of eligibility for the 6-foot-3, 308-pound offensive lineman. At the time he sustained the broken jaw, Dampeer was a reserve center who appeared in just one of the Tigers' first five games, with the lone appearance coming in the season opener against Louisville that season.

His scarce playing time in what was supposed to be his senior season left Dampeer feeling disappointed and yearning for another year of college to gain valuable experience. Following the injury, Dampeer received a medical redshirt and returned for the 2016 season.

He earned the starting center job during fall camp and started the first four games of the season before an ankle injury sustained in the second half of Auburn's win against LSU sidelined him for two games. By the time Dampeer recovered, Austin Golson reasserted himself at center as Auburn's offensive line flourished midway through the season.

Despite only starting four games and appearing in two more the remainder of the season, Dampeer is pleased with the additional experience he got out of his final year of eligibility -- a year he felt better prepared him for life beyond college. It was a year that also afforded him, as he put it, an opportunity to "re-change my body and re-change my mind."

And, perchance, an opportunity to extend his playing career. Although Dampeer is unlikely to hear his name called during next months' NFL Draft, he was pleased with his pro day performance and hopes to catch on with one of the NFL's 32 teams when the dust settles. During his pro day workout -- when he had "all the confidence in the world" -- Dampeer put up 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, ran an unofficial 5.16-second 40-yard dash and had a 29-inch vertical jump to go along with a 9-foot broad jump.

"Did I know that (incident) was going to happen? No," Dampeer said. "That came out of the blue... but it happened. It was a blessing in disguise. That's how I look at it. I choose to look at everything in a positive light, because I'm trying to weed out as much negativity in my life as possible. You could take the negatives and get something good out of the negatives; it's all about perception."

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