Karle's Korner: Does the key to an Auburn turnaround lie in Carl Lawson?

Auburn Defensive End Carl Lawson

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is an editorial from WBRC Sports Director Rick Karle:

There he sat sounding combative and sassy. As TV reporters tossed questions his way, Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson's answers were short and sweet. What was his take on his head coach being on the hot seat? "His resume speaks for itself, and that's all I'm going to say," said Lawson. What about all of those transfers coming into programs nowadays? "I like it." And what about the challenge of Media Days, being required to talk to all of those media people? "It's not a challenge to me." Yes, Carl Lawson was short, direct and on point. He was defensive yet cordial, cautionary yet witty, anxious yet ready to send his message: Auburn football will be back. And you know something? He might be right, and if he is, come December he may look back in the mirror and realize that it was he who led the team back.

For all of the talk at SEC Media Days about the Auburn offense, it's the junior defensive end who may be a difference maker for the Tigers this fall. "Carl is a game changer," said Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn. Perhaps Malzahn should have said: "A heathy Carl is a game changer." The Georgia native has certainly had his share of injuries. From a torn ACL to a hip injury suffered early last season, the team's marquee pass rusher has seen more pine time than playing time. But a healthy Carl Lawson? A player now projected to be a first round NFL Draft pick come next April? Watch out!

Carl Lawson knows that his comeback from injury has tested him, has defined him. "In life you have adversity, and every time I've had adversity in my life I've come back stronger. I didn't like what happened, but I appreciate what happened because it made me a better player, made me view things from a different perspective. Every experience is a learning experience. Last year I wasn't 100 percent, probably 60 percent coming back from the hip injury. I now feel faster and stronger," Lawson said on Monday in front of print reporters.

Lawson also knows that his final season at Auburn (he will very likely turn pro next spring) will be a time for him to lead. "I see a lot of great work ethic in this defensive line and all the young guys that we have. They all work together everyday to improve each other. I can't wait for the season to start so you can see these guys play instead of me telling you about them," Lawson said. The future of the team is bright. "I feel like we recruited well. We have lots of talent. We need to execute, and that's what we did this past spring. Everybody has talent. When we get to the season, we will see how we stack up," Lawson continued.

It was late October of 2015 when Lawson was healthy enough to re-join his teammates, and despite being what he says was 60 percent, Lawson chalked up 17 tackles over seven games. He showed the world that once he hit 100 percent it would get really scary. Carl Lawson is just about 10 percent. Translation? As the questions continue about the Tiger's offense, look to Carl Lawson who may just help lead a resurrection in Lee County.

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