*From Auburn Media Relations*
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala., - If Auburn center Reese Dismukes' teammates questioned his commitment, those questions were answered last season.
During an open date before Auburn played Arkansas in the season's fifth game, Dismukes suffered a high ankle sprain. He played on. During the game against Arkansas, he suffered a dislocated elbow. And still he played on.
"When you dislocate your elbow," Dismukes said with a laugh, "it takes all the pain away from your ankle."
Even as the season disintegrated en route to a 3-9 record, Dismukes let it be known he would be there when called. It was then, Dismukes says, that his teammates knew they could trust him. If there was resentment over the way his season started, it was gone.
"I think guys were like 'this guy is here for the team,' " Dismukes said Friday. "I think that was big as far as everybody trusting me."
A week before Auburn's season-opener against Clemson, that trust was called into question. Dismukes was arrested and charged with public intoxication. He was suspended for the game.
Today, Dismukes is healthy and happy. He is the unchallenged leader on the offensive line and beyond. The bad times seem far away.
"I think it is more of a big-picture deal," Dismukes said. "Coming in, you are 18 years old and stepping into a whole new world. Once you get to where I am now, you see what you have in front of you as long as you do the right things and do everything you can to better yourself and everybody else around you. You try to do the best you can."
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says Dismukes is doing just that.
"With us, we were true to our word," Lashlee said. "We came in and it was a new day, a fresh start. From Day 1, we told Reese that what you do from this point forward is all we care about. Since we got here, everything has been great. I've been really proud of the way he's handled himself on the field, off the field, leading the guys, all the little things."
Dismukes, a starter in 23 of his first 25 Auburn games, is on the watch list for the Rimington Award, presented annually to the nation's top center. He was a second-team selection on the preseason All-Southeastern Conference team at Media Days.
"I really don't look at it," Dismukes said. "I hear about it and have people telling me congratulations, but that doesn't mean anything. You could be the last center in the league at the end of the season. My main goal is to win football games. If I'm at the top at the end of the year, awesome. My goal is to win championships, and that's how it's going to be."