Auburn Gets Monster CommitmentMay 3, 2018
Auburn football recruiting sent shockwaves throughout the college football world on Tuesday, May 1, 2018, when the #1 outside linebacker and #8 overall prospect for 2019, 247 composite 5-Star, Owen Pappoe out of Grayson High School (Ga), committed to the Tigers over his home state Georgia Bulldogs in what could be a program defining pledge for Auburn.
A transcendent “BOOM!!!!!!” one might say. Every time Auburn Football picks up a new commitment, head coach Gus Malzahn is known for tweeting his favorite punchline with a few exclamation points at the end, but Owen Pappoe’s pledge could be heard and felt around the loveliest village on the plains for years to come.
But before we get to that, let’s rewind to mid-November 2017 before Auburn’s epic two-touchdown Iron Bowl victory over #1 Alabama that clenched the SEC West Championship when reports surfaced that Arkansas wanted Gus Malzahn in the worst way and was ready to “backup the truck.” The upper crust of the Razorback nation made it clear that Malzahn was their #1 target and money would not be an issue.
Auburn University was at a cross-roads. Pony up a nice, new contract for Malzahn or shake his hand, thank him for his time on the plains and listen to the college football world mock you after Arkansas steals your coach.
The most coveted prospects in the country will tell you that one of the most important factors in their recruitment are the bonds and relationships they form with the coaches recruiting them.
And common sense tells you that if your program has a revolving door of a new head coach every few years, those relationships aren’t going to be nearly as strong for the prospect compared to the coaches that have been recruiting him since the 8th grade, which happens to be the time Gus Malzahn extended a scholarship offer to Owen Pappoe.
Malzahn and especially Auburn linebacker coach Travis Williams, who was Pappoe’s main recruiter, have been cultivating and building Auburn’s relationship with Owen Pappoe for a long time now and his commitment to Auburn is the fruit from their labor.
BUM! BUM! pic.twitter.com/lBIZ3NZ1uL
— Coach T-Will (@T_WILL4REAL) May 2, 2018
When a college football program secures a commitment from one of the country’s best prospects this early in the process, it creates a ripple effect that draws in other top recruits and that’s why Pappoe’s commitment can be deemed monumental and program defining.
At the end of each May, Auburn hosts the top prospects from around the country in a special recruiting event called Big Cat Weekend, which allows coaches, recruits and their families to get better acquainted with one another by doing fun things off the field like pie-eating contest’s, potato sack races, fishing, etc.
Pappoe admitted that he’s been a silent commitment since the first of spring, so it’s no coincidence that Auburn wanted the 6’1” 210-pound linebacker with 4.47 speed to publicly announce his pledge the first of May, which will only help promote BCW at the end of the month.
Just a couple days before Pappoe announced his decision, Auburn received another commitment from the Peach State’s deep crop of talented athletes when on April 30, 4-star cornerback Jaylin Simpson pledged his commitment to Auburn over Clemson, Florida State, and South Carolina among others.
Three days prior to that on the 27th, Auburn got one of the top players in the country for the 2020 class, again out of the state of Georgia when 4-star wide receiver Kobe Hudson chose Auburn over Alabama, Georgia, and Florida State.
I see a theme here.
When Auburn came to a cross-roads, they took the right road by signing Malzahn to a seven-year extension, investing in continuity because Pappoe’s commitment to Auburn is a direct reflection of Auburn’s commitment to the coach of the reigning SEC West Champions, Gus Malzahn.