Auburn, Ala.--A four-star prospect and an Under Armour All-American coming out of Jackson High in Miami, Robenson Therezie didn’t waste any time making an impact once he got to Auburn.
As a true freshman defensive back, Therezie was a solid special teams player and saw some game action on defense, finishing with 17 tackles in 2011.
That should have set the stage for even more playing time as a sophomore for Therezie, but a coaching change brought in Brian VanGorder as Auburn’s defensive coordinator and it wasn’t the right fit for Therezie. Although he was a playmaker and did well in his only real extended action of the season against LSU, Therezie never found a way on the field for a defense that struggled to stop anybody last year.
While it was obviously a tough season when you don’t have the chance to help out your teammates, Therezie said he never considered leaving Auburn even though he was far from happy with how things were progressing in his career.
That changed after Auburn hired Gus Malzahn as the new head coach and Ellis Johnson as the new defensive coordinator.
Bringing with him a defensive scheme that featured a hybrid safety/linebacker position, Johnson was an old-school coach who proved to be just the guy Therezie needed to resurrect his career. Playing well in the spring behind Justin Garrett, Therezie was set to be the backup at the “star” position until Garrett went down with an injury in the preseason.
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Thrust into the starting role in the opener, Therezie made the most of his opportunity with a pair of interceptions in the win over Washington State. With Garrett staying injured through the first five games and now likely out for the rest of the season because of a foot injury and an ankle injury, Therezie has not only settled in at the position, but has become Auburn’s biggest playmaker on defense.
“I feel like it’s the most perfect position for a guy like me--an undersized safety/corner,” Therezie said. “I’m a guy that can fit in the box and fit the run and still cover. I feel like it’s the perfect position for a player like me.”
Therezie wasn’t the only player who saw his career turn around with the new staff onboard. Defensive backs Ryan White and Ryan Smith are just two of the other examples of guys who have become big contributors under the new staff. Therezie said the coaching staff has made the game enjoyable again and in turn the guys are producing.
"It’s very fun,” Therezie said. “Watching the guys you came here play and you get to play with them. All these new coaches that came in, we had a chance to learn a lot of new things that could carry us on to the next level. It has been fun.”
Therezie heads to the end zone with Auburn's second touchdown against Ole Miss.
Leading the Auburn defense in tackles with 28 and interceptions with three, his latest was returned 78 yards for a touchdown in the win over Ole Miss. A guy with the nose for the football, Therezie said while he felt good about his play coming into the season he never thought it would turn out like it has.
“I was just worrying about being prepared for whatever situation that happens,” Therezie said. “As a backup and on the second team that’s what players should think--just be prepared. How much preparation you put into it will affect the next man. I’m just trying to play to the level up here (raises hand).”
One of the key players in Auburn’s defensive improvement in 2013, Therezie should have plenty of chances to do big things the rest of the season with teams such as Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama still on the roster. Nobody knows what the future holds for the Tigers, but Therezie said there is no question this is a different team that the one people saw last year.
“It feels like a whole new team, whole new Auburn team,” Therezie said. “We just keep going up--just like Coach Malzahn talks about.”
Therezie and the Tigers will face Western Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m. CDT for homecoming at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
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