Out of Hueytown, AL, Ladarius Owens was a great get in Coach Chizik’s first full class at Auburn. 247 listed him as the #4 player in the state of Alabama, making him the best in-state talent in the 2010 class for the Tigers. He was a bit of a hybrid linebacker/defensive end in high school, but was recruited to play end at Auburn.
Owens also considered offers from FSU and Tennessee, but ultimately decided on the Tigers at the beginning of his senior season. After all, he was a legacy athlete at Auburn - his uncle, James Owens, was the first African-American player at Auburn and a standout on the 1972 Amazin’s. Not a bad recruiting edge if you’re Auburn!
Owens redshirted his freshman year, so he did not play in the 2010 national championship season. He also only played sparingly in 2011 and 2012, recording 21 tackles and 5.5 TFL over 13 games. Owens was plagued by his lack of size and the fact that future NFL regular Corey Lemonier was ahead of him on the depth chart, but when Lemonier left for the Draft after 2012, Owens found significantly more playing time.
In fact, Owens earned a starting role in 2013, though he shared time with a stable of defensive linemen that new defensive line coach Rodney Gardner liked to rotate. The #10 at defensive end recorded 30 tackles along with 5 TFL and 2.5 sacks, including probably his biggest play as a Tiger when he sacked Jameis Winston in the National Championship game.
Owens experienced some injuries in 2014, his redshirt senior season, which limited him in the offseason and kept out of two October games. Owens wasn’t near as productive as he was the year prior, tallying 21 tackles and 2 TFL across 11 games.
Ultimately, LaDarius Owens had a solid if unspectacular Auburn career. He was a key piece of the 2013 team, not necessarily as a producer, but as a consistent and steadying force on a defense that could be a bit wobbly at times. Perhaps, had the injury bug not hit him in 2014, he would have been a playmaker on a defense that needed some help.
Tomorrow, we move on to a current offensive lineman and a wide receiver with an invasive style of play, who was robbed of a chance to play football at Auburn.