Auburn defensive tackle Daquan Newkirk feels like he played around '53 snaps' in Auburn's 29-13 win over Kentucky on Saturday. According to Newkirk, those 53 snaps were a career-high, a notable achievement for the defensive tackle who has battled back from multiple injuries but is fully healthy entering this season.
"On another note, I'm healthy," Newkirk said. "So, it's a big difference this year, the last few years I haven't been healthy, and I haven't been at my tip-top, so it's going to be a different year for me."
One of the reasons that Newkirk feels this season will be different is because he was fully healthy throughout the offseason.
"This year, I lost like 25 pounds, and I'm around 300 pounds right now," Newkirk said. "The last two years each time I was down before I tore my Achilles, then I tear my Achilles, and I gain 25 pounds during the time that I would be out."
Newkirk did not just see the field for 53 snaps on Saturday, but also performed well against the Wildcats. The defensive tackle finished with six total tackles, including one sack and four solo tackles.
Newkirk's performance was a notable achievement for the defensive tackle who has torn both Achilles during his time at Auburn. While battling back in both 2018 and 2019 from those injuries, he did not give up.
"Those offseasons were very tough," Newkirk said. "I tore both of my Achilles a year apart, and it was terrible. But during those times, I just stayed put and kept my faith in God."
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In 2018, Newkirk played in a reserve role at defensive tackle and appeared in eight games with seven total tackles on the year. While in 2019, he appeared in 12 games with five total tackles, including one sack.
Even though he was able to play in 2018 and 2019, the offseason injuries impacted his level of performance on the field.
"I would come back during the season, but not fully healthy," Newkirk said. "I would be not in shape as well. I wouldn't be moving how I know I could be."
Now fully healthy this season and with a showdown against Georgia in The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry looming, Newkirk is ready to show what he can do this year.
"This year definitely feels different, Newkirk said. "I know for a fact on Saturday that I was like 'Man, this is going to be scary for people because I am in shape.' I wasn't getting this time that I use to."
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