If you want to be the best you have to go up against great competition. That’s only going to bring the best out of you. —Nevin Lawson
LOGAN — When Nevin Lawson looks at Utah State's 2013 football schedule he gets excited. The Aggies face some the nation’s top wide receivers in 2013, including BYU’s Cody Hoffman and USC’s Marqise Lee, winner of the 2012 Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding wide receiver.
The line of talented receivers on tap for the Aggies is enough to give a lot of defensive backs nightmares, but Lawson has used it as motivation during what he calls the best offseason of his career. The senior has eaten better and worked out harder to get ready for his final games as an Aggie.
“It’s a great opportunity to go up against those receivers.” Lawson said. “If you want to be the best you have to go up against great competition. That’s only going to bring the best out of you.”
With 26 career starts Lawson is the most experienced member of an Aggie defense that finished seventh in the nation in points allowed in 2012. Despite playing regularly since his freshman year, Lawson has flown under the radar. Last season star USU corner Will Davis stole the headlines and the spotlight while Lawson spent most of his time locking down teams' No. 2 receivers.
This year it will be Lawson that matches up against opponents' best receivers while the Aggies look to break in Tay Glover-Wright at the other corner spot.
“I think I can be as good as Willie Davis,” Lawson said about replacing the Miami Dolphins' third-round draft pick. “At the end of the day the only thing I’m worried is making sure I do what I have to do to make the team successful.”
To help make the team successful Lawson knows he needs to do more than just contribute on the field. As a senior he is being looked at as a leader, a role that made the Florida native uncomfortable not that long ago.
“At first I didn’t understand how to be a leader,” Lawson said. “Eventually I just had to embrace it and the more I embraced it the more I loved it. It’s a great thing to be. I just want to help out the people around me that need help. Any type of help that they need, I just want to make sure they are going the right way.”
Now Lawson counts his leadership as one the most important things he does for the team. He is helping new safety Maurice Alexander know his role in the secondary. He is also encouraging the defensive line to get pressure on the quarterback to give him chances to snare interceptions this year after not recording one in 2012.
Beyond the stats and accolades, however, Lawson is most concerned about leaving after his senior year knowing that he gave everything he had for his team.
“I just want to go out there and play 100 percent and make sure my teammates can look at me and say that I’m accountable and that I’m giving it my all," he said.
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.