Auburn started spring practice Tuesday, and things are well underway around the SEC. Thirteen of 14 teams have started spring practice, with Kentucky bringing up the rear in starting next week.
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This will be an important spring for Auburn, as the defending SEC Champions turn from the hunter to the hunted. With another spring to develop, here are five players who are ready for big roles in 2014:
Montravius Adams, DT (SO)
2013 stats: 20 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack, 7 QB hurries
Buzz: Auburn will need defensive line help this season and someone to complement Gabe Wright. Adams showed the ability to be an elite player for his size, and Ellis Johnson is counting on Adams to blow into a bona fide dominant defensive tackle.
Cameron Artis-Payne, RB (SR)
2013 stats: 91 carries, 610 yards, 6 TDs
Buzz: Of all four 600-yard rushers, Artis-Payne was the least talked about. However, he’ll be the most important in 2014. He has all the tools, especially the size, to be the Tigers every-down back, with Corey Grant used as more of a changeup. Artis-Payne will remind you of former Tiger Ben Tate, and he should shoulder the running game starting this spring.
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Carl Lawson, DE (SO)
2013 stats: 20 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 7 QB hurries, 2 FF
Buzz: That’s a nice looking stat line for a freshman. Lawson is built like a truck who possesses elite quickness for his size. Many thought Lawson was the country’s top high school player, and he showed why last season. With Dee Ford gone, Lawson becomes the pass rusher and should be an absolute beast this season.
Derrick Moncrief, S (JR)
2013 stats: JUCO transfer
Buzz: Moncrief enters Auburn at a crucial time. The Tigers lose safeties Ryan White and Ryan Smith, and this spring is so important for the welfare of the defense. He’s working as Auburn’s boundary safety to start spring, and he’s a great looking player who will make an instant splash.
Kris Frost, LB (JR)
2013 stats: 52 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 FF
Buzz: With Jake Holland gone, Frost’s role as an everyday player is about to jolt. He was the defense’s seventh leading tackler last year, and he showed flashes that could make him All-SEC playing alongside Cassanova McKinzy. It should be a strong linebacking core.
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