Dallas, Tex.--There is perhaps no player at this year’s Cotton Bowl who has gone through as much to play for his team as Auburn senior cornerback David Irons.
From early academic problems that were later diagnosed as a learning disability to injuries, Irons struggled for years to play for the Tigers. Now it all seems it’s over too soon.
Monday will be Irons’ final game in an Auburn uniform after just two seasons of play. Really just now coming into his own at the position after fighting through multiple knee surgeries while at Butler County Community College and then at Auburn, Irons says that getting a chance to represent Auburn at Thursday's Cotton Bowl Media Day just proves that hard work will allow you to accomplish anything.
“I look back and I didn’t think I was going to be on this podium today,” Irons says. “This is my last game and I look back at the struggles I’ve had and the academic problems and the injuries I have been through, there was a time in my life where I was going to quit and give it up. My father is my main role model in my life and he just kept pushing me.”
David Irons Sr. knows what it takes to be successful in life. After playing in the NFL, Irons now runs one of the top training facilities for athletes in Atlanta. He also knows what it takes to raise successful kids as both David and brother Kenny Irons, both AU graduates, have delivered for the Tigers on and off the field in their two seasons of play.
David Irons is expected to be drafted in next spring's NFL Draft.
Much of the reason for that is training that began when the boys were little guys running around the yard. David says his dad would have both of them out catching the football and working on their agility.
It wasn’t all about football though as both also worked on becoming good students with the guidance of their parents. David says that once his learning disability was diagnosed he was able to finally live up to his own expectations in the classroom. All the hard work was justified recently when David walked in his graduation from Auburn University in August, a day that he says he’ll never forget.
“My mom and dad were pushing me on academics,” Irons says. “I’m the type of kid, I didn’t really care about academics. It’s always been a struggle for me because of my learning disability. They kept pushing me and pushing me and when I got my degree I was the happiest kid in the world. If I get injured and can’t play football that is cool because the one thing you can’t take away from me is my degree.
"A lot of people said I wouldn’t make it here football-wise because I was too small or not talented enough. They said I was just a great high school athlete, but I proved them wrong. They said I would never get my degree and I was never going to do this or that. I proved them wrong.”
Monday will be the last college game for the Irons brothers after a long road for both of them to get to Auburn. With just one game left, David says he’ll treat it just like any other and give thanks to the man that made it all possible. That man is Tommy Tuberville.
“Coach Tuberville is a great man and he stuck to his word,” Irons says. “He said, ‘David I’m going to get you here any way I can’. He said, ‘I’m going to get you here just trust me. Just keep on working and do your part.' He stuck behind me through my injuries. A lot of people would have probably thrown me to the side. He recruited some DBs, but he didn’t recruit as heavy because he told me 'you’re going to be my guy.' When I heard that, I just loved him for that. It’s hard for me to tell a guy I love him, but I’ll probably do that sometime. He stuck through with me through thick and thin.
”Every day I just try to lay it on the line for the fans and for everyone who stuck behind me. My dad always told me ‘David don’t worry you’ll get out there and show people.' I’m happy and I’m going to enjoy it. I’ll be an Auburn Tiger until the day I die. My tombstone will read ‘Aubie’ instead of my name.”
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