AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert spent the majority of his time last year at defensive end. But once he returns this fall, he'll also have to start brushing up on playing inside.
Had he been healthy, Lambert likely would have gotten a head start on repping at both positions this spring. The rising senior was held out for the entirety of spring practice, however, as he continues to rehab from a knee injury that forced him to undergo surgery last November. That injury ended his first season on the Plains prematurely; at the time it occurred, he had developed into the Tigers' most consistent lineman outside of Montravius Adams, collecting 24 tackles (seven for loss) and 3.5 sacks, which tied for the team lead.
Even while Lambert was unavailable this spring, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp had already started drawing up plans for how he wants to utilize the former junior college transfer.
"He can play multiple places. Right now he would play end for us, but he also needs to be a nickel rusher inside," the coach said. "We need to have the flexibility to cross-train DaVonte in some different looks. He’s a guy that has the skill set to do that.”
Aside from his ability, there's another reason the Tigers are eagerly anticipating Lambert being cleared to practice.
"'PeeWee' is no-nonsense, does everything you ask him to do," said defensive line coach Rodney Garner, invoking Lambert's nickname. "That's why you hate that he's hurt. But we miss him because he's such a great leader."
In his short time with the team, Muschamp has already picked up the same vibe about Lambert.
"DaVonte Lambert, who I know is a really good leader, you get him back in the fold with our players ... I know that can really positively affect the unit," he said.