Auburn finds elder statesman in sophomore

HOOVER, Ala. -- Wearing a conservative plaid suit and new cordovan tasseled loafers, Auburn defensive end Nosa Eguae looked well beyond his 19 years Thursday. That's pretty much the way he played at end of last season, when he started 11 games and made 7.5 tackles behind the line.

"From a freshman to a sophomore, the biggest difference in defensive linemen is getting off blocks," Eguae said. "As a freshman, you're kind of glued on blocks. Watching my films from last year, there were games where I was glued. I didn't get off blocks very well. Toward the end of the season, I started getting off blocks and I started making plays."

The 6-foot-3, 264-pound sophomore counts as an elder statesman on the defending national champions. His advice to his younger teammates explains why he is mature enough to play at such a young age.

"We got in a room and I wanted to speak," Eguae said. "I said, 'Hold yourself accountable and do the little things right. Focus on how you become a better player and get Auburn victories. And after you hold yourself accountable, you hold others accountable.' So everybody is on the same page, getting better, and the goals are the same."

The Tigers lost 31 players from a year ago. They need uncommon maturity. They've got at least one player who possesses it.