War Eagle Extra

Former Auburn LB Takeo Spikes loves program’s defensive turnaround, Deshaun Davis’ ‘swag’

Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis runs drills before playing Clemson Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis runs drills before playing Clemson Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

No one is as excited about Auburn’s defensive turnaround as Takeo Spikes.

The Auburn legend anchored the program’s defense as an All-American linebacker in the mid-90’s.

Spikes, a two-time Butkus Award semifinalist, had 136 tackles as a junior in 1997 for a top 30 defense (19.2 points allowed per game).

From Auburn’s “phenomenal” secondary to an imposing front, the former All-Pro loves what he saw on the Plains this season with the Tigers holding teams to 15.6 points per game (fifth in the country) and 348.8 yards per game (20th in total defense).

“You look at this defense know you can see the coaches breakdown throughout the week is translating to the team,” Spikes said. “They understand it. They calling out formations and plays before it even happens.”

Spikes was on campus last week for a promotional ticket giveaway in connection with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

The retired NFL defender also complimented the work fellow Auburn alum Travis Williams has done this season at the position they both played.

“They got better week, after week, after week and that’s the only thing you want as a coach,” Spikes said. “You want that. You want to see your kids can take what you are teaching them in the classroom and take it out on the field.”

Spikes, known for his intense demeanor on the field, saw more than a little of himself in Deshaun Davis this season and the way sophomore established himself as leader and impact player.

“Deshaun he really stepped his game up, playing with swag” Spikes said with a smile. “Swag comes from being confident in your ability and you go out there and make some plays, that’s why he’s playing like that.”

Davis had 55 tackles in 12 starts this season with seven tackles for loss and three pass breakups.

The sophomore out of Vigor High School went almost three full seasons without playing a meaningful snap. He missed his senior year of high school with a knee injury and was used sparingly after redshirting his freshman year.

“It still seems kind of unreal to me just to look up in the stands and see all those people cheering for the Auburn defense and knowing I'm on the field,” Davis said earlier this season. “I'm enjoying every second of it.”

Spikes sees a bright future for Davis, Tre’ Williams and the rest of the linebackers under Williams.

“They are not where they need to be yet, but they know that,” Spikes said. “They are still grinding.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra