The Tigers have are losing 87 games of experience up front on defense with junior defensive end Colby Wooden declaring for the NFL Draft and senior edge Derick Hall graduating.
Wooden went to social media on Tuesday morning to announce that his Auburn career is finished after 91 solo tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 15 sacks and three forced fumbles in 40 games played over four seasons. He shined late in his career, as he was named SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week after his game-changing strip sack in the fourth quarter in the win over Texas A&M.
The Lawrenceville, Georgia native racked up six sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss in the 2022 season. He kept the pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season with 10 QB hits and three forced fumbles, including two fumble recoveries.
After making his debut as a freshman against Kent State, Wooden became a staple for the Auburn defensive line, playing three games that season as a freshman. He then earned a starting spot in 2020 and only improved from there.
Wooden, 2022 Preseason All-SEC Second Team defensive end, ended his career with three SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week awards.
But on the other end of the defensive line, Auburn is losing a senior team captain with 47 games under his belt in senior Derick Hall.
When he broke into the backfield for the Tigers' first sacks of both 2021 and 2022, it was only a foreshadowing of things to come. The 2022 Preseason All-SEC Third Team pick erupted for 16 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons.
He was a consistent presence on the field for Auburn as well as other team's backfields in his four years at Auburn. He played in 11 games in both 2019 and 2020 before playing in all 13 in 2021 and all 12 in 2022.
The Gulfport, Mississippi native also had a knack for creating turnovers. While Auburn did not get a takeaway in the first three games of 2022, he snagged an early-game interception versus Missouri to set things in Auburn's favor in its first SEC game in 2022. While that was his only interception of his career, he also forced five fumbles and recovered one against Arkansas this season.
The duo of Wooden and Hall closed out their respective Auburn careers wit˙ two tackles a piece versus Alabama. Hall also registered a tackle for loss for a three-yard loss.
Behind Wooden on the roster at defensive end is Marcus Harris, who is a senior, and redshirt freshman Tobechi Okoli. Behind Hall at edge is senior Eku Leota, who is also going to the NFL, and redshirt freshman Dylan Brooks. While Okoli did not see the playing time, Brooks played in nine games this season, garnering six tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
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Noah is a senior in journalism from Salem, Alabama. He joined the Plainsman in August of 2021 after transferring in from Southern Union Community College.