Marlon Character won’t be just tackling his teammates next season.
The 6-foot-0, 181-pound defensive back made an impression on the practice field wherever the coaching staff put him, redshirting as a true freshman.
“The most productive has been Marlon Character,” Auburn linebacker Tre’ Williams said after one of the team’s practices for the Sugar Bowl in December. “On special teams and on defense. He’s a really good player, very athletic. I’m just ready to see him in the spring.”
Next season, Auburn has two starters to replace in the secondary with Joshua Holsey and Rudy Ford graduating. Holsey turned into one of the more consistent players on the Tigers’ defense last season opposite Carlton Davis at defensive back.
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According to Williams, Character practiced at defensive back this season, which puts him in a group with Javaris Davis, Jamel Dean and John Broussard Jr. looking to get some of Holsey’s reps.
“He just flies around,” Williams said. “He’s around the ball every play. Coaches really love effort. When you sit back and watch those guys play and give great effort, you see what the coaches talk about.”
Williams expects Character to be a “big factor” on Auburn’s defense next year.
Gus Malzahn expected as much when he welcomed Character on campus a year ago.
“He’s going to be a fantastic player,” Malzahn said. “He’s got a very good skillset.”
Malzahn appreciated Character’s loyalty during the recruiting process despite Auburn’s staff going through significant turnover.
The Grady High School alum out of Atlanta stuck with the Tigers despite a heavy push from South Carolina. Former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson wanted to bring the 3-star defensive back out east with them.
“He stayed committed to us through the transition of us losing a defensive coordinator and our secondary coach,” Malzahn said. “Those guys kept recruiting him, and he hung in there with us.”
Malzahn echoed what Williams said leading up to the Sugar Bowl. The coach has “no doubt” Character will be a very good player for Auburn in the near future.