AUBURN | Richard McBryde was the epitome of a next-man-up mentality Saturday night in Columbia.
The Auburn sophomore filled in at linebacker for an injured teammate at Missouri and finished with a career-high four tackles along with one tackle-for-loss and a couple of big hits.
“It was very exciting. I was excited for him,” said senior linebacker Tre’ Williams, who was held out with a shoulder injury. “Normally, as you can see, he didn’t get that many opportunities. When he got the opportunity he actually stepped up and played big. Now we just gain even more trust in him and you’ll probably see more snaps out of him as well.”
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No. 13 Auburn has rotated four linebackers into two starting positions for most of the last two seasons. That’s left little playing time for linebackers father down in the rotation, which includes McBryde. The sophomore has gotten most of his snaps on special teams the past two seasons.
That changed Saturday as he helped Auburn win its conference opener 51-14 over Missouri.
“McBryde did pretty good tonight. I'm proud of him,” linebacker Montavious Atkinson said. “Everybody is proud of him. He always had it. He was just waiting on his opportunity. He capitalized on it tonight.”
Williams, who may return to the starting lineup this weekend against No. 24 Mississippi State, is confident that McBryde could step for him or any of the other top four linebackers if needed in the coming weeks.
“He was like, ‘It was a blessing.’ He didn’t think it was going to come this soon, but when it came he stepped up to the challenge,” Williams said. “I told him, ‘Man I’m really proud of you and I’m looking forward to seeing you in these next few games.’”
Kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium is set for 5 p.m. CT on ESPN.