Athletic Big Man Chooses Tigers

Auburn added its 11th verbal commitment for the Class of 2004 with this two-way standout from Georgia.

Blakely, Ga.--Looking for playmakers at linebacker for the coming seasons, Auburn found exactly what it was looking for with the commitment of Early County standout Octavious Balkcom Monday night to the Tigers. Rated among the top 50 players in Georgia this season, the 6-4, 225-pounder with 4.65 speed in the 40-yard dash says that in the end Auburn was where he always wanted to go.

"I committed not too long ago," Balkcom tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "They called me and I verbally committed to them. I talked to Coach Nall (Hugh Nall). Auburn is a good school and they said I have an early chance to play. It's also a good atmosphere.

"I have been thinking of them as number one for a while. I also like that it's real close to home too. They have a good coaching staff as well."

Saying that the losses of Dontarrious Thomas and Karlos Dansby factored into his decision, Balkcom will get his first look at linebacker, but has the skills to play defensive end and even tight end on the next level. An all-region selection at tight end as a junior, he has continued his productive ways there this year with three touchdowns for the undefeated 7-0 Early County team.

At linebacker is where he's making his name right now as his physical play and relentless style on the field has him a top prospect for many of the biggest programs in the South. With 60 tackles through seven games, many of which he's sat out large portions of because his team has been ahead, Balkcom has been very productive and had an offer from Tennessee in addition to Auburn. There were also several other schools that Balkcom looked hard at before choosing to become a Tiger.

"I was hearing from Florida State, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State and a lot of others," Balkcom notes.

A visitor to Auburn for the USC game early in the season, Balkcom plans to be on the Plains this Saturday for the homecoming contest against Louisiana-Monroe and says he's looking forward to getting in town now that he's committed. He also has an official visit set for January 9th to Auburn. This fall he's also taken trips to Florida State and Troy State to take in games.

As a junior Balkcom had 60 solo tackles and led the team in total tackles for the season. He's also an accomplished track athlete and finished second in the shot put as a sophomore. Balkcom is the 11th verbal commitment to the Tigers this fall. He joins recent verbal Blake Field from North Florida Christian as future Auburn Tigers. The others are:

*Quarterback Calvin Booker from Mays High School in Atlanta.

*Offensive lineman Cameron Mayo from Dalton, Ga., High.

*Offensive lineman Antwoin Daniels from Mary Persons High in Forsyth, Ga.

*Running back Brad Lester from Parkview High in Lilburn, Ga.

*Cornerback Dee McClure from Minor High in Adamsville, Ala.

*Linebacker Courtney Harden from Colbert County High in Leighton, Ala.

*Safety Marcus Carter from Fort Payne, Ala., High.

*Wide receiver James Swinton from Tucker, Ga., High.

*Ath. Blake Shrader from North Jackson High in Stevenson, Ala.

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