AUBURN, Ala. Carl Lawson doesnt necessarily mind anyone drawing comparisons between he and Jadeveon Clowney.
After all, Clowney is set to become one of the top picks in Mays NFL draft. But he didnt turn into that kind of prospect overnight. Ellis Johnson, who was South Carolinas defensive coordinator at the time, witnessed the gains Clowney between his freshman and sophomore seasons firsthand.
Now in his second year at Auburn, Johnson thinks Lawson can do the same thing.
But Lawson wanted to set the record straight first; though he and Clowney play the same position, theyre not the same type of player.
Hes pretty much more of a lengthier guy. I feel like from what Ive seen on film, he doesnt play as much into a scheme, he said, and thats what (defensive line) Coach (Rodney) Garner tells us to do.
Simply put, Lawson wants to remove any weaknesses from his game.
I want to be able to drop, play the run, play the pass, he said. I just want to be able to amp up all my abilities.
When prompted, he had no problem naming the areas he needs to shore up.
Just my overall football awareness, addressing different schemes when Im out there on the field, snap count, getting off the ball, hands, footwork, Lawson said. Every little aspect of my game, I need to improve.
Thats why this spring is so important to him.
Its a big spring for me because last year, I was a little bit disappointed with my performance, he said. I cant wait to get better.
He was no slouch last season, though. Appearing in all 14 games, he recorded 20 tackles (7.5 for loss), four sacks and forced two fumbles. For that, he captured the Tigers defensive newcomer of the year award at the team banquet in December.
And the man in charge of Auburns program doesnt foresee any dropoff coming from Lawson this fall.
We have high expectations for Carl, coming off the season he had, coach Gus Malzahn said. You can just tell he's a lot more confident out there and just trying to be a leader by example.
In doing so, Lawson will try to fill the void created with the graduation of Dee Ford. Lawsons sack total was second on the team last year, trailing Fords 10.5. With this in mind, there wouldnt be any shortage of reminders of the things Ford accomplished.
Lawson will have to prepare for more; after spending last season as LaDarius Owens backup at right end, he has shifted over to left end Fords old spot.
But the rising sophomore isnt interested in hearing about any parallels between he and his predecessor.
I just want to be able to make plays for my team, pass or run, he said.
Being able to identify those things instantly only comes with experience.
Lawson believes hell reach that point soon enough.
If youre all over the place, youre wasting energy and youre putting your time and effort in the wrong direction, he said. Once I have a better understanding of what Im doing, the game (will come) easier to me.