AUBURN, Ala. — No football player ever jumps from the high school to the college ranks with the goal of sitting out his first season. Sometimes it’s because a player is just so confident in himself that he can’t fathom not contributing immediately. Other times, it’s because a player has been specifically targeted to fill a need.
All of this is doubly true when it comes to junior college transfers. If you’re not playing immediately, it usually means one of two things: Either you’re hurt or you haven’t adapted to your new school quickly enough.
Consider Xavier Dampeer the exception to all of these rules.
Enrolling at Auburn this spring after spending the last two years Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Miss., Dampeer knows his place: He’s the backup to Reese Dismukes. And he’s fine with that.
“Reese has been a great help for me. I try to learn as much as possible from him. He’s the greatest center in the nation. I believe everybody knows that,” Dampeer said. “I’m trying to take everything from his game that I can — take what he has and make it my own.”
That Dismukes is entrenched as the starter is without question. The only way Dampeer would move into the lineup, then, is if the senior went down with an injury. But Dismukes has been as durable as they come, missing only one game due to injury in the past three years.
Still, Dampeer believes he’ll play this season, even though the possibility of redshirting this season exists, preserving two years of eligibility.
“I would probably consider that, but I doubt that happens,” he said. “I feel like I’ll be used.”
That might not have been the case earlier this year. Dampeer admitted that getting acclimated to the frenzied tempo of the Tigers’ offense gave him fits this spring.
“That was part of my growing pains — having to work at that pace and having my mind work that fast. I had to process things faster,” he said. “It probably took me all spring. Once I learned the plays and the techniques and all that, everything was fine.”
The person perhaps most important to determining Dampeer’s playing time — or lack thereof — this season has been pleased with the progress he’s seen, too.
“He’s coming on,” offensive line coach J.B. Grimes said. “Again, that’s one of those deals where it takes reps. You just have to rep them and rep them ... And we know that as coaches, but a lot of times players don’t understand that. They don’t get that. They think they’re ready right now. It just takes a little bit.”
If that’s the case, so be it. Dampeer said he trusts the judgment of the coaching staff. If that means he plays this year, great. If not, he’ll enjoy getting a full season to continue serving as Dismukes’ understudy.
Playing time or not, Dampeer’s mind-set won’t change.
“My main focus is getting better and learning this offense,” he said. “ (I’m) just working the kinks out of my game and becoming the best player possible.”