Lot to Lykes

Published 9:53 pm Friday, August 14, 2009

It’s been one month shy of two years since Derrick Lykes has played in a football game.

The Chilton County High product is chomping at the bit during Auburn’s fall camp, of course, but much has changed for Lykes during that time period that has made him a better player and role model for current CCHS players.

“Everything is going good,” said Lykes, a redshirt freshman. “I’m with the starters on kickoff returns and second-team defense and punt return.”

Lykes, who is listed as 6’2” in the Auburn media guide, said he has beefed up to about 285 pounds from the 270 pounds he played at in high school, and he didn’t just start eating more.

Lykes said he squats more than anyone else on the team. Though he hasn’t maxed out since coming in as a true freshman, Lykes said he has squatted 470 pounds easily. He has also bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times.

The increased weight and strength was necessary because Lykes is playing defensive tackle instead of defensive end, as he did at CCHS.

Lykes is in good hands at Auburn. His position coach is Tracy Rocker, an All-America defensive lineman at Auburn in 1987 and ‘88. “He’s easy to listen to,” Lykes said. “He knows what he’s talking about.” And head coach Gene Chizik is a defensive guru that Lykes said is a hands-on teacher.

During his senior season of high school football, in 2007, Lykes suffered a season-ending ankle injury on the first play of the second quarter of the third game, against McAdory. Auburn honored a scholarship offer it had extended to Lykes during a summer camp, though, and Lykes would become the Tigers’ first in-state commitment of his class.

Lykes then took a redshirt last season. Some players might have become impatient, but Lykes said the redshirt year was beneficial. It allowed him to get bigger and stronger, but that’s not all.

“It gives me another year of school, so maybe I can get another degree,” Lykes said.

Though Lykes said he doesn’t know what a second area of study would be, he is a physical education major. A long-term goal is to become a football coach, he said.

Lykes stays in touch with the current CCHS staff, though he played his senior season for former coach Steve McCord. Lykes credits God, assistant coach Matt Maddox, McCord, CCHS counselor Tammy Lewis and his family for his success, and he’s eager to help others succeed also.

“When I come back to the high school, a lot of them ask me how they can get better,” Lykes said. “I just tell them to keep their heads in the books and stay in the weight room.”