AUBURN, Ala. — Gimel President isn't the first player that comes to mind when people bring up Auburn's defensive line. He wouldn't be the second or the third, either. In fact, he might not even be among the top five.
And it's not that he's never seen the field. His career numbers are respectable: 33 tackles (five for loss) and a sack in 15 career appearances the past three seasons.
Still, President is aware of his relative anonymity, his notable last name aside. And he's trying to change that. The only problem?
He hasn't been at 100 percent health this spring due to a groin injury.
At least he thinks he's getting better, slowly but surely.
"I think I’m moving forward pretty good. I’m kind of rusty coming back to it," he said following the Tigers' second spring scrimmage last Saturday. "I missed the first five practices, but I’m doing pretty good. I just have a lot of stuff I have to work on for the season."
First and foremost, that means improving his stamina.
"I was out for about five weeks because of the injuries, but I think I’m doing pretty good," he said. "I’m getting into the rotation right now and moving pretty good.”
When he finally got cleared to practice — albeit in a limited role — all he was permitted to do was stretch. A lot.
"I can't really practice right now. But I'm getting back in the groove," he said. "And it's tough. I'm out of shape a little bit, so that's one thing I've got to work on. And I've got to get a little more physical."
And the difference between rehabbing to get back in shape and actually dressing out and tussling with teammates is like night and day.
"Yeah, they're running them and all that when they're out rehabbing, but there's nothing like putting those pads on and going out there and practicing every day," defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. "Like (President) was saying, 'I've got to really get in shape.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, it's different.'"
While he's not able to take part in every part of every practice, President did participate in the most recent scrimmage. And during that time, he didn't just see time at defensive end. He also took reps at Buck, the Tigers' hybrid defensive end/linebacker position brought in by new coordinator Will Muschamp.
So how did he do in pass coverage?
"I'm getting there," he said with a look that seemed to imply he struggled more than he'd like to admit.
When it came to Muschamp's system as a whole, President believes he's already picking it up quickly.
"It fits me pretty good," he said. "I have some stuff I need to work on like hand placement and my pad level, but other than that it fits me pretty good.”
Those were the same parts of President's game Garner wants to see improve.
Do that, and President may end up accomplishing his goal of being a key part of the defensive line rotation this fall.
"He's working. He missed a lot of work prior to spring break, so he had to transition and work his way back in, especially fitting into the two-gap, because that's something that we didn't do (the last two years)," the coach said. "It's a different fundamental, different technique. So that part right there, he's really got to strain himself and get back in there. He just really needs to work."