AUBURN, Ala. — It’s a play Auburn fans can’t watch enough.
And who can blame them? It’s not often a team scores a touchdown off a deflected pass — on fourth-and-18 and only 25 seconds remaining, to boot. Yes, Ricardo Louis’ game-winning 73-yard catch to beat Georgia will forever be looked upon fondly by Auburn’s fan base. That’s why it should come as no surprise the catch — along with a handful of other memorable plays from Auburn’s incredible, mesmerizing 2013 season — is on a constant highlight loop.
But the player in the middle of it has moved on.
“I don’t need to watch it myself anymore,” he said. “That was last year. I’m trying to move forward. That was a big play and all that. It was legendary. But I’m looking forward to the future.”
It’s a future he hopes isn’t encapsulated by one play.
“I want my career to be defined by more than just that,” he said. “It’s going to be a part of it, but I want it to be more than just that.”
Quan Bray doesn’t blame him. A senior, Bray is someone Louis has leaned on for advice. When Louis needed someone to work out with this summer, Bray was the first person he called.
Those conversations allowed Louis some time to vent.
“That catch was great. He's going to live on that for the rest of his life. But sometimes, (he’ll) be like, ‘Man, I'm tired of everybody coming at me about that. I want to be known for something else,’” Bray said. “But he's a hard worker and I’m sure he'll be known for more than just that play at the end of his career.”
Louis hopes to achieve that by goal by adding to his repertoire. He’s already shown his capability to run the ball, as he had 19 carries for 198 yards last year on a combination of reverses and end-arounds.
This year, he’s planning on adding kick returns to his on-field responsibilities.
“I did that a lot, actually, in high school,” Louis said. “I was pretty good at it. I was hoping when I came here that I’d get a chance. I’m looking for a big year with that.”
Kick returning, carrying the ball — those are secondary objectives for Louis. He’s a receiver through and through.
It is in that role where he reserves the highest expectations for himself.
“I just want to be a complete receiver. That’s the position I am and I don’t want to be rated just as an athlete,” Louis said. “ My routes, I think I run pretty good routes. I’ll run them right and then I’ll drop the ball. That’s what I’ve been working on — running a good route, catching it, score.”
During the first few days of practice, Louis has played in the slot, with Sammie Coates and D’haquille Williams working outside. As the season goes on, Louis believes he and Williams will become interchangeable.
That aligns with where Gus Malzahn expects the Miami, Fla., native to line up this fall.
“He has the ability to play both (and) he has experience playing both,” Auburn’s coach said. “ He understands the offense (so) we can move him around.”
Regardless of where he plays, Louis had only one word to describe the trio of he, Coates and Williams.
“Dangerous,” he said. “We’re going to be dangerous.”
If Louis can do that, he’ll accomplish the goal the coaching staff has put in front of him.
“Ricardo is one of those guys that we really challenge to take that next step,” Malzahn said. “Last year was really his first year to really play receiver for an entire year. We really feel like that he has a chance to take that next step.”