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Auburn defensive back Stephen Roberts not picking on new teammate John Broussard Jr.

Auburn defensive back Stephen Roberts remembers a time when his former coaches instructed him to pick on the inexperienced little guy.

The little guy at the time was sophomore John Broussard Jr., but the strategy didn’t pay off for the then-Opelika senior.

“We tried to throw at him a lot, but it really didn't work,” Roberts said with a smile. “He had the lockdown skills, so it really didn't work.”

Both Roberts and fellow defensive back Jamel Dean singled out Brossard as a standout freshman this spring from Auburn’s group of nine early enrollees.

“Just having him focused and ready to play, ready to come in and do some work, that's what has impressed me about him this season,” Roberts said.

The Central High product was a 4-star prospect coming out of high school where he finished his senior season with 35 tackles, six pass breakups and an interception to help the Red Devils reach the state semifinals.

Both 247 Sports and ESPN ranked Broussard as one of the top 10 prospects in the state of Alabama.

Auburn scrimmaged for the first time this spring Saturday and Broussard continues to show improvement every time the Tigers step on the field.

“I see him getting better every day in spring and improvement,” Dean said. “I like to see that for later on in his career.”

When coach Gus Malzahn introduced Auburn’s class of 2016, he described Broussard as a player who could provide depth for the Tigers’ secondary right away.

Roberts hasn’t seen anything from his new teammate through eight spring practices that would make him disagree with his coach’s opinion.

“Getting to know him as a player has been the best thing that's happened for us,” Roberts said. “He's a smart guy. He likes to work and be competitive.”