AUBURN, Ala. — Ever since he got to Auburn, big things have been expected of Montravius Adams. And through two years, he's been solid. Adams has played in 26 games, including 10 starts. In that time, the rising junior defensive lineman has registered 63 total tackles (9.5 for loss) and four sacks. And few will forget his interception against Louisiana Tech last season, when Adams went 36 yards before he was tackled just five yards shy of the goal line.
He's been steady, sure. But coming in as one of the marquee players in the Tigers' 2013 signing class, the former five-star prospect still is looking to become a consistently dominant force.
This season, he'll just have to do it as the most experienced returning player at defensive tackle.
"It’s really crazy. I went in and there were six of us last year and I came back this year and five of them are gone," said Adams, referring to the losses of Gabe Wright, Angelo Blackson, Jeff Whitaker, Ben Bradley and LaDarius Owens. "I’m the only one in there who played. I’m supposed to be the leader of the group. There’s a lot of pressure, but I think I can deal with it."
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Adams isn't too worried, though. With the return of Carl Lawson from an ACL injury, Dontavius Russell coming off a redshirt season in 2014 along with the addition junior college transfer Maurice Swain and the signing top-ranked prospect Byron Cowart, Adams is sure he won't have to go it alone.
"It really feels good just knowing that we've got a lot of help," he said. "We don’t have that many guys returning, but we've got a couple and we've got a couple coming in and we got Swain to come in early, so really I’m just looking forward to everybody getting that team chemistry, handling the leadership and learning plays and going out there and do what we do."
One thing Adams was thankful for was Rodney Garner sticking around. The Tigers' defensive line coach was the only member of Ellis Johnson's staff retained by new coordinator Will Muschamp.
"With us still having 'Coach G' going on my third year — he’s a good coach," Adams said. "Y’all know his past, the way he had guys go to the league (NFL). I’m just trying to do that and be one of those guys and help my team out."
Garner himself has said he is looking forward to seeing how Adams handles being the elder statesman of the unit.
"I think this is going to be good for Montravius. You know, the expectations across the board — the bar has been raised for everything," Auburn's defensive line coach said in February. "It'll be interesting to see how Montravius responds."
As the spring has progressed, the coaching staff haven't been disappointed.
"Montravius is a guy that’s played for two years and has a lot of ability. I know the coaches are pleased with where he’s at," coach Gus Malzahn said. "He’s getting a lot of reps."
Still, there's one thing Adams has been lacking: the drive to compete every single play. That fire is evident at times. But Muschamp doesn't believe the Georgia native will reach his true potential until it becomes an unending desire to be disruptive every second he's on the field.
"He's been a guy that we've just got to consistently get it out of him every snap. He's got to understand that," the coordinator said. "I think he's gotten to that maturity level to understand we're going to coach him hard every single snap to get that done. The guy has got a tremendous ability and we've got to get him playing hard every snap."
Can Adams reach that level this fall?
"I feel like it, but I know I've got a couple more things I've got to work on," he said. "When the season gets here, I should be ready to roll along with the rest of my teammates."