Speedy Prospect Checking Out the Tigers

One of the South's fastest prospects tells why he is interested in Auburn football.

Wide receiver Montae Pitts from tiny Loachapoka, Ala., High School sprinted into the limelight of the recruiting scene during the spring of 2001.

A talented but not well known player following his junior season for the Class A school, Pitts began receiving attention from colleges around the South and East and even committed to Virginia Tech during that time but it was nothing to compare to what would happen after the showing he put on at the Jackson Hospital Combine in Montgomery in June.

For coaches from all around the Southeast to see, Pitts ran back-to-back sub 4.4 times (hand-timed on artificial turf) in the 40-yard dash that firmly cemented his place among the elite not only in the state of Alabama but in the country. Now firmly entrenched in the minds of almost every school he had hoped to hear from, Pitts says it's now a waiting game to see which school he likes the best but two SEC Western Division schools are definitely in the running.

"LSU and Auburn are my leaders," he told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "Tennessee and Florida are still right there as well, but when I went to LSU's camp I didn't really know much about LSU but the staff was pretty straight with me about playing time and what position I want to play. They said they would let me make that decision."

As for the Tigers from close to home, Pitts says that is an easy choice for them to be in the running. In addition to the proximity, the play of freshman quarterback Jason Campbell has caught the interest of the speedy Pitts who says it's definitely a draw for a receiver if you have a quarterback like Campbell throwing to you.

"The reason I like Auburn, I'm from Auburn and I'm a natural Auburn fan," he says. "I talked to him (Campbell) after the spring game and he asked me if I was coming to Auburn and I told him it looked like I was. He said, ‘That's good, maybe we can hook up for the next couple of years.'"

Montae Pitts at Loachapoka's second game of the 2001 season

A frequent visitor not only at Auburn games but at practices this season, Pitts has already made it known that he's considering the Tigers very seriously among his list of schools to attend. He is scheduled to attend the LSU-Auburn game this weekend as well as the LSU-Tennessee and Auburn-Alabama games later in the year after making visits to Auburn each of the first two weekends for the Tigers' games against Ball State and Ole Miss.

A threat to score from anywhere on the field for Loachapoka, Pitts has been somewhat bottled up this fall in the first two games as he tries to guide a very young team into the 2001 season. In their first game against Bullock County, Pitts returned the second half kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown that sealed a close win over the Class 4A school. In their second game Loachapoka ran into a buzzsaw of a team, the Lineville Aggies. Despite 23 tackles from his free safety position, Pitts and company were manhandled by the bigger, faster Aggies and were never in the game after trailing 31-0 at the half.

Playing a number of different positions on both offense and defense, it's sometimes tough for Pitts to get in a groove during the game. Despite that, he says that it's his job to keep his team striving towards their goal of a state championship.

"I'll play about 50 percent of the game at quarterback and 25 percent each at tailback and receiver," he says "It's fun because I feel that the game is all on me. The team thrives off my big plays and doing good on the field. I'm one of the leaders on the team so if I do good, they'll do good. If they see me down they'll probably get down. I try to be a positive leader for my teammates."

With his speed and desire for the game, it's no wonder Pitts is the leader of the pack for many schools as well.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Pitts was not the only East Alabama prep star who was on campus for an unofficial visit last weekend. A pair of Opelika High stars, Tommy "T.J." Jackson and Will Herring, took in the action. Jackson, a 6-2, 280-pounder, is considered one of the top defensive tackles in the South. He ran a 4.9 40 at one of the Auburn football camps and at the Capital City Combine in Montgomery showed the same quickness in the NFL combine drills as current Tiger star DeMarco McNeil.

Tommy Jackson, Defensive Lineman

Herring, a 6-3, 200-pound quarterback, has developed into one of the state's elite prospects by showing up as one of the best athletes in a variety of summer football camps at which he clocked times in the 4.5 range like clockwork. AU and most colleges are recruiting him as a defensive back and he has been compared favorably with former Tiger Rob Pate. Herring almost cracked the 200-yard barrier as a rusher in the season opener.

Will Herring, Opelika High


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