It’s early, but we’ve seen several freshmen already making an impact on their teams in fall practice – Alabama’s Foster and Foster, Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche and Tennessee’s Marquez North.

Now, it’s Auburn’s Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel’s turn.

Both former prep five-stars, Lawson and Daniel are impressing teammates with their violent hands, via AL.

“One thing they came in with was violent hands,” Dee Ford said. “A little wild, but they came in with violent hands. That’s the most important, key thing. From there, it’s cleaning up technique.”

Lawson and Daniel are two key cornerstones to Gus Malzahn and Ellis Johnson’s future success, and the Tigers certainly have two future bookends in the works.

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson sees the natural and fluid ability of his two defensive end primos, but he knows it takes a little bit of time for everything to sink in and click with freshmen. Right now, they’re overwhelmed with everything freshmen usually are, from the playbook to the scheme.

“You can see their upper-body strength and their quick-twitch (ability) and a lot of young players, they don’t have that ability. They’re just physically not as strong as they’re going to be one day. And some of them just don’t have that natural first step and that quick twitch to explode out of their stance. Those two guys are going to be really good players. I don’t know if it’s going to be tomorrow or next week or next month or next year. I don’t want to put any pressure on any freshman. But they’ve shown some really impressive things so far. We’ll just have to see if they end up being ready to go. Sooner rather than later we hope, but if they’re not ready, they’re not ready.

“I think our older guys have improved, but I think those two young guys are bringing some natural abilities that can make them better,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if they’re ready. There’s an element other than physical skill to being an SEC football player on game film, and we’ll have to see whether they’re ready to take that role.”

Freshmen are usually overwhelmed by the step from prep to the big leagues, but the ones who are able to slow the game down, mentally process everything and use their natural abilities are the ones who excel.

I would love to hear Johnson compare Jadeveon Clowney and Lawson as freshmen. He coached Clowney as a freshman before leaving South Carolina for Southern Miss. While Clowney’s so explosive, Lawson is much more developed and looks like he’s 25.

Check out this photo of Lawson, courtesy of 247Sports Keith Niebuhr in May.


Lawson and Daniel are competing with Dee Ford, Nosa Eguae and Kenneth Carter, who moved from tackle to end. Even with Auburn building depth in the trenches, you can bet we’ll see these two freshmen make an impact in 2013.

Photo Credit: Chuck Cook – USA TODAY Sports