AUBURN, Alabama – It was week three of the shortened COVID season in 2020. Auburn was hosting Arkansas in a divisional matchup. Early in the second quarter, rookie Tank Bigsby looked like he was stopped for a short gain. But he broke away from two tacklers, bounced it outside, lost a third tackler and picked up 17 yards.
On the very next game, Bigsby – playing his only third college game – broke two more tackles and came back to the rim where he dropped his shoulder and landed a jab before going out of bounds.
It was clear then that this was not your average freshman.
“When he was a freshman, the first few times he had the ball, you looked at him like, ‘Wow, this guy could be awesome,'” Andy Staples of The Athletic recalled.
Bigsby finished the day with 146 yards on 20 carries and helped lead Auburn to a 30-28 win. It was the first of four 100-yard rushing performances this season for the SEC Freshman of the Year. Last year, he passed the 100-year mark five times and had over 1,000 yards this season.
And yet, as good as Bigsby was his first two seasons at Auburn, the talk around the team is that he’s taken a giant step forward this offseason and been one of the most improved players, if not the most improved player on the team. .
“The kid always had a great attitude,” Auburn running backs coach Carnell Williams said. “Always worked hard. Always showed up. Always a team guy. But sometimes the guys who are really talented, they overlook the little things, the details of the game. I just think the man is intentional to the little things. He just has a different vibe about him.
“He’s getting older and starting to understand that if I’m going to do this for a long time and do it at a high level, there are a lot of guys who have talent. What’s going to separate me? I think his understanding of that has improved so much.