AUBURN, Ala. — At times this spring, Auburn found it difficult to put two healthy defensive ends on the field.
Elijah Daniel tweaked his groin during the first drill of the spring. Fellow sophomore Carl Lawson was healthy until the spring’s final week, when he bruised his knee. That ailment led the coaching staff to hold him out of the A-Day game. Then there was LaDarius Owens; a rising senior who started 12 games last season, he had a break in his foot and never left the sideline this spring.
Add in Tyler Nero, who was hospitalized after collapsing during a practice in the final week of March. After that scare, he didn’t participate in another session before the spring concluded.
With a scarcity of able bodies on the defensive line, perhaps no player benefited more than Gimel President.
“He got better. I think he’s worked himself into a situation where I feel like he’s trustworthy,” defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. “I feel like he’s going to be able to give me some quality reps. I really feel that he came out every day and just worked his tail off and he got better, he really did.”
A consensus three-star prospect out of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, in the Class of 2012, President’s two years on the Plains have been uneventful. After redshirting in 2012, he made just three tackles for last season’s SEC champions. But President made gains this spring, Garner said.
For that, kudos are in order.
“I think you have to be able to tell kids when they make progress, especially me and my personality, being so hard on them,” the coach said. “I’ve got to be able to tell them when they do some good things.”
Those improvements merely mark a beginning, Garner cautioned.
President’s real work begins now.
“I’m looking forward to him having a great summer — I think that’s going to be critical,” Garner said. “He has to have a great summer and a great fall camp, but I think he’s developing where he may be able to make some contributions to our unit.”