Auburn, Ala.—With a new offensive system and a final chance to impress the coaches with his play, senior wide receiver Travante Stallworth heads into the 2012 season with a renewed sense of excitement after an up-and-down junior year that saw him get off to a hot start but disappear down the stretch.
Coming in with a ton of promise out of Louisiana, the former high school quarterback has battled injuries for much of his career, but is healthy and ready to go this season. With one year left at Auburn he said that it’s hard to believe his career is on its last leg.
“It’s unreal to me,” Stallworth said. “I talk to Emory (Blake) and Lutz (Philip Lutzenkirchen) about it all the time. We just got here and four years has flown by. Now we are seniors and about to graduate and go on with our lives. It’s kind of unreal. I’m kind of excited even though I’ll be kind of sad because it’s my last year.”
Stallworth’s junior year couldn’t have started much better as he caught four passes for 93 yards and a touchdown in the win over Utah State. Two weeks later he added five receptions for 71 yards at Clemson and looked to be on his way to a huge year. Instead, Stallworth would catch just three passes for 54 yards the rest of the season as the Auburn offense struggled to get the football to him.
“It was tough, but the coaches had the plans and I couldn’t go against them and be selfish and just think about myself,” Stallworth said. “I just did what they asked me to do and went out there and played and tried to win as many games as I could.”
Even though the season turned on a dime individually, it would still serve as a confidence builder for the former high school quarterback as he showed that he’s capable of making plays when given the opportunity.
“It was real big for me,” he said of his early success last season. “A lot of people didn’t believe in me, but I went out there and showed them what I could do. It was a huge confidence booster. It made my teammates look at me and say ‘I didn’t know he could do things like this’. I just feel grateful that I showed people what I could do and I made as many plays as I could.”
After a tough season last year that saw the Tigers lose in blowout fashion to many of their top rivals, this offseason has been a challenging one according to Stallworth. With Strength and Conditioning Coach Kevin Yoxall never letting the players forget what happened, he said the team is determined to get back to the top of the college football world.
“In workouts Coach Yox brings it up every day that we were 8-5,” Stallworth said. “Nobody likes to be 8-5 because Auburn’s expectations are to at least go to the SEC Championship and win 11 or 12 games each year. Even in workouts in the weight room we are working to beat the teams that we got blown out by. We’re trying to dominate everybody.”
As for Stallworth it’s once again time to prove himself. With Auburn still searching for a number two wide receiver to complement Blake, he said that it’s something that drives him every day knowing that he’s got an opportunity to go out with a bang in his final year on the Plains.
“We read everything as athletes,” Stallworth said of the criticism the receivers have gotten. “We read all the blogs and everything. We just want to show people what we can do. You have to try to block that stuff out, but again it’s lingering in the back of your mind that you want to prove people wrong and go out there and play as hard as you can.
“I want to show them even more, add another chapter to the book,” he added. “I want to show more people what I can do and that small doesn’t mean anything. A lot of people call me a small receiver and I’m not as tall or weigh more than the other guy, but I still think I can get the job done.”
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