Change Of Heart And Sport Lands Rollins At AU

Former Air Force football commitment Kent Rollins talks about how he arrived at Auburn getting ready to play baseball for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Just a few short months ago South Gwinnett two-sport start Kent Rollins thought his future was going to be playing quarterback for the Air Force Academy, but a stellar baseball season and some good fortune led him to Auburn where he'll be playing baseball for Coach John Pawlowski and the Tigers next spring.

One of the top quarterback prospects in Georgia, Rollins was a dynamic player for South Gwinnett as he passed for 4,539 yards and 47 touchdowns in his last two seasons as a starter for the Comets. That was enough to get him some smaller offers, but nothing that really stood out until one phone call changed all that.

"It literally came up out of the blue one day," Rollins tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I hadn't been talking to them or anything, just getting e-mails and some letters. I didn't really think much of it and then out of the blue they came up and texted my head coach one day before practice. He pulled me out of a meeting and showed me the text. It was a weird feeling, but it was awesome. It was a great opportunity for me because I had nothing else there for me."

Visiting Air Force for a game against Utah and later taking his official visit, Rollins says that he felt comfortable with his decision to be a Falcon, but things would take a dramatic turn once baseball season rolled around.

Starting out on fire on the diamond, Rollins hit over .700 for the first three weeks of the season to catch the eye of Major League scouts in the area. His good play didn't slow down as he finished the year hitting .453 with nine home runs, 25 RBI and 30 runs scored. That was good enough for several teams to invite him to a tryout, which he notes was a little surprising.

"I'm guessing because I was committed to the Air Force that other colleges were thinking I was off limits," he says. "I had a couple of workouts with the San Diego Padres, the Minnesota Twins, and the Chicago Cubs. Once I got drafted I knew it was too late to think of playing pro baseball and have it be better than an Air Force scholarship. It was great I got drafted, but I was going to the Air Force."

Once again fate would step in and deal Rollins a winning hand. After being drafted in the 48th round by the Padres, his summer ball team played in a tournament at Plainsman Park where the Auburn coaching staff happened to see him in action. That eventually led to an offer from the Tigers, a team Rollins had dreamed of playing for his entire life.

"They liked me enough to take a chance on me," Rollins says. "I've always been an Auburn fan. It was kind of like a dream come true.

"When I told Coach (Link) Jarrett that I wanted to be an Auburn Tiger, I told him that I've always said War Eagle, but to say it and actually be going to the school is something special," he adds. "I kind of had to pinch myself a couple of times to believe that it was a reality. I still can't believe I'm here."

Committed to Air Force, Rollins was able to instead sign papers with Auburn because the service academies don't have players sign a Letter of Intent. Once players enroll in classes that's when they become an official part of the signing class.

Before that happened though Rollins says he had to deliver the news to Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun.

"Definitely telling Coach Calhoun the news was the toughest thing for me," he notes. "He's probably the nicest man I've ever met in my life. To tell him that I'm not going to play football anymore and that I'm going to pursue a baseball career was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

Expected to get his first shot at either a middle infield position or at third base for the Tigers next season, Rollins says he's just happy to have the opportunity to live out a dream and he's going to do anything he can to help Auburn Baseball be successful.

"I'm just looking forward to getting out and being with the guys in the fall," Rollins says. "I want to see what kind of team we'll have for the spring. As far as my role in the spring, if I can help the team out somewhere hopefully I'll be able to do that. I'm just here to help the team. I just couldn't imagine being at a better place."

Rocker Rucker

On Tuesday the Tigers also landed one of the top pitching prospects in the country as left-handed hurler Rock Rucker chose the Tigers over Arizona State, Florida and Mississippi State. A 6-4, 225 power lefty from Redan High in Stone Mountain, Ga., Rucker throws in the low 90s with very good command.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories