AUBURN, Ala. When Devaroe Lawrence graduated in 2010, he didnt have a offer to continue his career at the collegiate level
Due to issues with his grades, colleges stayed away from the Carolina High School alum. But the Greenville, S.C., never let that get him down. He loved football too much to think it had reached its end.
Somehow, Lawrence was certain he would find a way.
He found the perfect place to resurrect his career at Georgia Military College.
I heard about this combine (at GMC), Lawrence said in a phone interview on Tuesday. We got here about 12 and left around 4. And Id say about a month or two later I got a letter in the mail telling me what to have when I reported to fall camp, and Ive been here ever since.
His time in Milledgeville is quickly drawing to a close. Once this semester ends, the defensive tackle will pack his bags and head to Auburn as part of its 2014 recruiting class.
Though he always had a plan to extend his playing career with the hopes of eventually signing with a major Division I school Lawrence admitted he never fathomed it would unfold like this.
If you were to tell that Id be getting ready to play for Auburn next fall or that I was going to commit to Auburn in the summer, if I heard something like that, Id think youd be yanking my chain, he said. I didnt see it coming like this. I didnt see it happening like this.
What was the biggest factor in Lawrences decision to commit to the Tigers last July?
It just felt like home, he said. Mississippi State was under consideration, but Auburn just felt like home. It wasnt about the business or about how close I was to (my family). I made my choice (based) on what felt like home, what felt like family. Auburn was that place.
Hes not the only defensive lineman from GMC set to become a Tiger this fall, though. DaVonte Lambert waited until junior college national signing day in December to sign with Auburn, flipping from his original commitment to Tennessee.
Lawrence said he talks with Lambert nearly every day, but didnt go out of his way to try to convince his teammate to join him on the Plains.
He made his own decision, Lawrence said. We talked about Tennessee, we talked about Auburn, we talked about other schools. We just talked about football. He committed to Tennessee earlier last year, but he still liked Auburn, so he talked to me about it. Then on the day when it was time for him to sign, we talked about it that morning and he ended up picking Auburn.
What kind of player are the Tigers getting in Lawrence?
If nothing else, hes candid about his strengths and weaknesses.
I get off the ball good. Ive got good initial contact and my hands are good, he said. (But) I need to work on getting off blocks and not playing around with the man in front of me so much. I think thats one of the biggest things for me to work on.
When he steps foot on campus, hes already prepared for the baptism-by-fire that will come with defensive line coach Rodney Garners intense style.
Lawrence said it wont bother him. Far from it.
Instead, its something hes looking forward to.
You cant wear your feelings on your sleeve. Youve got to be able to take coaching, to take criticism, he said. It isnt like youre going to get weaker by trying to fix what youre messing up on. Hes trying to get you to fix your mistakes and critique your game to make it better. Im just ready to play football.