Photo by Jason Caldwell

The Happy Holder: Auburn Football Walk-on Has Reason to Smile

Tyler Stovall and a group of his Auburn teammates have plenty of reason to be happy.

Auburn, Ala.--One of seven Auburn football players who found out Friday night he is going to be on scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year,  Tyler Stovall called the news a “dream come true.”

The returning starter as the holder for field goals and extra points, the former minor pro baseball player said, “I am truly blessed. I can’t complain about how my life has went this far.

“I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan and I got to play for the Braves,” he said. “I grew up as an Auburn Tiger fan and I am here playing at Auburn.

“It is kind of surreal for me because I didn’t think I would have an opportunity,”?he pointed out. “I am 26 years old--who gets that opportunity?

“I?am just really thankful for Coach (Gus) Malzahn and Coach (Scott) Fountain, who gave me the opportunity to come here to Auburn. It is a dream come true and the reason I do what I?do is I want to encourage younger people if you have a dream go accomplish that dream--you can do it. That is kind of my thing here.”

The other walk-ons who got scholarships include redshirt freshman defensive lineman Tyler Carter from Decatur, sophomore fullback Keean Sweeney from Snellville, Ga., senior linebacker/defensive end Greg Hall, Jr., from Athens, Ga., sophomore wide receiver Logan Rice from Rome, Ga., and sophomore linebacker Josh Shockley from Locust Grove, Ga. Cornerback Michael Sherwood, who was put on scholarship last year, had it renewed for his junior season. He is Atlanta.

Stovall, Auburn’s oldest player this season, was a standout performer at Hokes Bluff High, who played football and basketball in addition to baseball. He was named Alabama’s Mr. Baseball in 2008 and was a second round selection in the Major League Baseball Draft, the second pick of the Braves and No. 64 overall.

After his minor league baseball career ended he joined the Auburn team in 2013 as a walk-on and redshirted.  His tuition has been paid for by the Braves, which included money for college tuition in his signing bonus.

Stovall says he isn’t certain about all the details of what happens with his money from the Braves now that he is on athletic scholarship, but he is sure he is honored.

“It is just a blessing for me and a dream come true to be put on scholarship at Auburn,” he said. “It is something I take pride in and I just want to thank my coaches and my teammates believing in me and let me have it. It was a really neat deal to get that. I was really just thanked and blessed to have that opportunity.”

Photography: Inside the Auburn Tigers/AUTigers.com

Tyler Stovall holds the football for kicker Daniel Carlson in a preseason practice.

His wife of five years, Kristi, is also pleased, Stovall points out. “She is definitely the better half of me,” he said. “She was definitely excited and proud for me.

“It is a little bit different being married and being on the football team because not most guys are. She is just like one of us. I bring a lot of guys over for home-cooked meals. I like to bring that aspect to them. A lot of the guys aren’t from here so I try to say, ‘Hey, come over to the house and let Kristi cook for us’ and have that family environment, home away from home if you will.

“I just really enjoy having that kind of mentorship I can have for the guys and Kristi is a big part of that,” he added. “She is just a great wife. She hangs out with us. She is definitely a great wife--better than I could ask for.”

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