He started 2007 within easy reach of Auburn's career sacks record and was on preseason watch lists for three major defensive awards.
But Groves' senior season has not gone according to script. After a promising start, Groves' climb to the top of the Tigers' sack chart stalled when he suffered a painful foot injury at Florida. During his injury rehabilitation, sophomore Antonio Coleman took Groves' spot at defensive end. Coleman played so well that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville moved Groves to strongside linebacker before last week's game against Tennessee Tech. Of the 10 snaps he played last weekend, all were at linebacker. He's assured to get more than 10 on Saturday when the No. 18 Tigers visit No. 10 Georgia at 3:30 p.m.
"To tell you the truth, I kind of like it," Groves said Tuesday. "It's a lot more fun. You get to do a lot more things. It appeals to more of the high art of the defensive positions.
"I've always taken pride in being an intelligent guy. I've always asked the coaches, 'Why do we do this? Why do we do that?' I've always wanted to know more about how the game is played. This gives me a chance to learn first-hand how another aspect of how the game works."
Groves began 2007 as a preseason All-American candidate and was on the watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy, the Bednarik Award and the Hendricks Award.
He seemed on his way to fulfilling the preseason hype when he had two sacks in the Tigers' 23-13 season-opening win against Kansas State.
One of those sacks foreshadowed things to come when Groves forced a fumble that Coleman scooped up and returned for a touchdown.
A sack against Louisiana State gave him three for the season and 26 in his career to tie him with Gerald Robinson as Auburn's all-time leader.
Groves' season changed against Florida. An offensive lineman rolled over his right foot and dislocated three toes. The injury knocked him out of games against Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
In Groves' absence, Coleman took over and produced.
"That's just A.C." Groves said. "He's an outstanding player and we knew that going in. He's a great pass rusher so we knew that once he got on the field, it was going to be hard to get him off."
Coleman has started the past five games and leads the Tigers in tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (6.0).