Where Will the Leadership Come from in 2017?
H-Back Chandler Cox warms up for day two of Fall Camp (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
Auburn Football lost key pieces from the 2016 season to the NFL, primarily on defense. This season's team looks to be one of the nation's best considering the depth at offensive line... young, but experienced receivers... a running back duo that could be the best in the SEC this season... and a defense that could prove to be stronger than last season.
Despite the potential, there still needs to be leadership in order to move the team in the right direction. Auburn has those guys.
The Tigers opened training camp on Monday, and one of the more notable sounds inside the indoor practice facility was the scream of H-Back Chandler Cox.
"I take that role and I’m proud of that role," says Cox, a junior from Apopka, Florida. "I love bringing people with me and leading by example and bringing that energy because sometimes there’s not a lot of great energy in this room and in different rooms and I’m just trying to be that guy that lifts people up and tell them that this is a wonderful opportunity that we have here, let’s make the most out of it and bring that energy."
When most people think of leadership, they think of it coming mostly from the quarterback, or the oldest back or lineman. Cox says that it does not matter what position you play, or even how experienced you are, leadership can show at any time.
"It’s what I learned in High School, you can be a freshman and lead, my (high school) head coach told me that. I came here, I’m like “I’m a freshman, I’m a sophomore, I’m not going to be scared to lead.”
Approaching that role early worked out for Cox, as he believes that his energy can bring out the best in his unit.
"I’ve taken that role this year to be a junior and a lot of guys look up to me I think. It’s my job now to lead by example here in the facility, in the town, just to bring people with me and just love on them, especially the young guys and try to bring them in as a brother.”
Even the best leaders need motivation sometimes. For Cox, he does not need to go far for support, as he turns to his roommate, transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham, whose screams could also be heard at the beginning of fall camp.
"He’s our general. He’s doing a good job with that, it’s going to be big for us. Sometimes, even in our rooms, I’m laying in my bed, he’s laying in his bed across the way, he hears me scream, he screams back, that’s how we wake each other up, that’s how we get each other going."
While Cox is stepping up on offense, it's a defender that has bigger shoes to fill.
Last season, linebacker Tre' Williams finished second on the team in tackles with 67
in 11 games in 2016. With the losses of Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams on the defensive line, Williams has been called upon to step into that role, which, according to him, is the biggest step he has taken from his freshman to senior season.
“There’s a lot of shoes to fill ever since Carl (Lawson) and Mon (Adams) left, I have to step up and be the leader of this team. Not only the defense, but the whole team.”
Although it is a mighty role to fill, the senior credits the coaching staff for developing him into the player, and person that he is today.