Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Three remain for DE Carl Lawson
By Kipp Adams
ALPHARETTA, GA -- No. 2 prospect Carl Lawson (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) has been committed to Auburn since March 24, 2011. There is a good chance he will remain part of the Tigers’ future when it comes time to send in his letter of intent next Wednesday on signing day.
But changes to the coaching staff at Auburn opened the door for two other programs to get the five-star defensive lineman on campus for official visits earlier this month, and they should be considered contenders to land the 6-foot-3, 252-pound prospect.
Dabo Swinney was able to get Lawson to Clemson late in December for an unofficial, and again Jan. 11 for his first official visit. The following weekend Lawson traveled to check out Tennessee.
“Clemson is a nice place with a family feeling,” Lawson said. “I like Coach Swinney, I like the family environment and it is a winning program.”
In Knoxville, the lineage of standouts to play at Neyland Stadium stood out to the elite pass-rusher, as did the athletic buildings.
“I just like all of the great players that have come out of Tennessee that I admire,” Lawson said. “People always say everywhere has great facilities, but man Tennessee has some special facilities. They have a good history, a crazy fanbase and a huge college town like Knoxville.”
A self-professed huge fan of Peyton Manning growing up, Lawson was excited to tour the same campus where the All-Pro quarterback once attended college. But it was another experience, immediately following seeing Manning on video, that seemingly held Lawson captive during his Tennessee official.
“It was awesome to be able to visit a place where your idol went,” Lawson said. “The best part about the visit was being able to watch so much film. I watched some of Peyton Manning, and I do not know much about quarterbacks, but then they told me they had all of the film throughout the years, and I went nuts. I ended up staying longer than I was supposed to. They had all of the best defensive linemen, and the best 3-4 pass rushers throughout all of the years on over 10 monitors, and I would watch pass rush film on Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Demarcus Ware, and I was already ecstatic. It was crazy just watching Dwight Freeney, Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White, Derrick Thomas broken down on film with all of their moves dissected. My favorite movie of all time has to be Dark Knight, and this was like that times two.”
Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling is hoping to have an opportunity to mold Lawson, whose senior campaign included 78 tackles, 44 tackles for loss and 27 sacks, into a player worthy of being on those monitors in the future.
“I know the Coach Stripling is a really, really, really good coach,” Lawson said. “He has proven that over time, so I know I could learn a lot from him.”
Clemson and Tennessee are expected to make their final pitch to Lawson with in-home visits later this week. But after that, Lawson will return to the campus he has originally committed to play at over 10 months ago. This weekend could prove to be the one where Auburn secures its top target of the 2013 recruiting cycle.
“This weekend is just a chance to see Auburn again, have some fun, chill and meet the entire coaching staff,” Lawson said. “We are pretty cool right now and we are building a good relationship. I still had more of a trust with the old staff because I knew more about what the old staff was doing, so I am trying to see what the direction of this group. I do like Gus Malzahn’s offense and he has seen the SEC and scores a lot of points so his resume speaks for itself.”
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is hoping to recreate with Lawson some of the success he had with the last five-star defensive end he worked with.
“What they are trying to sell to me is how they used Jadeveon Clowney, but he has such an incredible get off,” Lawson said. “But it is a freshman-friendly defense that just asks you to go get the ball. I like how I would be used in that scheme.”
As for how the next week will go, Lawson sounded confident and relaxed.
“I am just taking this one step at a time,” Lawson said.