After deciding to return for his senior season this past offseason, Auburn's man in the middle, linebacker K.J. Britt was preparing for a breakout season.
This saturday was supposed to be his final A-Day game as the veteran linebacker commanding a defense now without departing starters Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson, Noah Igbinoghene, Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas.
Instead, Britt is at home with his family, adjusting to the new norms COVID-19 has created.
“The most positive thing I can take out of this is just spending time with my family,” Britt said on a teleconference on Thursday. “I haven’t been able to spend time with my family like this since high school. Just waking up with everybody in the house and having a good time. That’s probably the most positive thing I could take from this and just making sure everybody staying safe and staying healthy.”
With Deshaun Davis and others graduating two seasons ago, Britt stepped into a much larger role his junior season. His total number of tackles rose from 21 his sophomore season, to 68 his junior year, including 2.5 sacks.
Without spring practice, the rising senior is focused on improving his own game with his newfound spare time.
“Mainly I just been watching myself,” Britt said. “I’m my biggest critic. I know there’s some great linebackers out there with great games, but I need to improve my game so I’ve been watching myself right now making sure, I know what I need to improve on, so I just watch myself and see how I can improve it. Then I go out in the yard and try to work on something. Right now I’m really just studying my play. Then closer to the season I’ll start studying other linebackers game.”
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Along with watching film, Britt and the defense are allowed four hours a week of virtual Zoom calls with the coaches. Britt says the meetings are primarily used to install defenses along with a time to talk and ask questions.
Going into his senior season, Britt wants to focus on becoming more versatile and expanding his range. He is the senior leader in a linebacker room that includes returning starters Owen Pappoe and Zakoby McClain, along with newcomers Romello Height, Wesley Steiner, Desmond Tisdol and Cameron Riley.
While football remains a focus, everyone’s well being is the primary concern.
“I’m looking at myself like a leader, I’m pretty sure my teammates look at me as a leader so leaders gotta lead, you know,” Britt said. “But right now, I promise you like, football is important, I promise you it is, but right now we just trying to make sure everybody staying safe. The conversations we been having is really just checking in and checking up on everybody and making sure everybody’s ok and everybody’s family ok. Cause I’ve been calling and reaching out to the guys and just making sure that everybody’s good.
“That’s been our main concern, that’s been my main concern anyway cause once you get back down there I promise you football gonna take care of itself. I just wanna make sure everybody can make it back down there cause coronavirus is real. I don’t wanna nobody on our team or anybody to have to lose a loved one over not social distancing. That’s been my main main concern. I know when we get back down there we gonna have a lot of time on our hands just to get back right.”
Growing up, Britt hasn’t gone a single fall without football. Now with the season still in uncharted territory and with the timetable unknown, he tries not to even think about it.
“Nope,” Britt said when asked about imaging a fall without football. “I ain’t even wanna try to imagine. Not even gonna try to.”
As of now, Auburn is scheduled to start its season Sept. 5 against Alcorn State.
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