Perhaps the proudest person in the tiny library at Elmore County that wasn't a relative of Grubbs was Panther head coach Travis Pearson. A former coach at Southern Choctaw High School who has tutored such players as Spencer Johnson, Pearson said that Auburn fans are going to really like watching Grubbs play and more importantly they are going to like getting to know him as a person.
"His mom has done a terrific job with him," Pearson said of the 6-4, 250 Grubbs. "He is just an all-around kid. On and off the field in the community, everybody around here says Ben Grubbs is their favorite person. He's just the perfect coach and the perfect kid to have.
Grubbs with his mom at Wednesday's press conference.
"Auburn is getting a pretty good football player. I don't know if he's gotten the amount of publicity that he should have gotten but he played middle linebacker for me and can go sideline to sideline. I think Coach Tub (Tommy Tuberville) has got future plans of putting his hand in the dirt, which won't be a bad idea. With his speed, size and quickness I think he can make an immediate impact, I really do. I really believe that."
Pearson should know about players making an immediate impact on the collegiate level because just a few years ago he coached one that did just that. When Johnson came out of Southern Choctaw High just two years ago, many questioned whether he could get the job done on the collegiate level, but he has answered that question with a resounding yes. Now Pearson said he sees the same kind of drive and determination in Grubbs that he saw in Johnson when he was leading his team to consecutive state championships. Pearson said he will turn Grubbs over to Johnson in a few months to continue the learning and maturity process that goes along with playing major college football.
Grubbs speaking while wearing an Auburn visor he put on during the announcement.
"I called Spencer the other day and told him to take care of Ben and if he didn't I would kill him," laughed Pearson when recalling his last conversation with Johnson. "He's gotten huge. When I first saw him he was a 5-9, 150 pound 9th grader and now he's a full grown man. I think Ben has the potential to do the same thing."
Finishing the season with 150 tackles, six for losses, two sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries while playing middle linebacker, Grubbs quickly became a player that teams tried to avoid on the field. Seeing time at fullback as well as tight end, he also had 20 carries for 86 yards and three touchdowns. Admitting Grubbs is one of his favorites, Pearson said this is a day that is big for many reasons.
"It's great for Ben," he said. "He has worked extremely hard. In the three years I have been here, you have to beat him out of the weight room. That's before games and after games he gets in the next day and works out. It's just great for him and it is great for this program and community. That was the best thing that could happen. He signs with a local university and we'll all get to see him play on Saturdays."
Tiger Ticket Extra: An outstanding student who has already qualified academically, Grubbs said he plans to get to Auburn this summer to begin work both on the field and in the classroom. He noted that he wants to major in Mechanical Engineering…Moving from linebacker to defensive end will be a challenge for Grubbs but it's one he said he's looking forward to. Saying that he'll begin calling coach Terry Price for help on technique questions and assignment questions, Grubbs said he'll be ready when two-a-days begin. "I don't want to be behind when I get there, I want to be ahead of everybody. Linebacker is kind of like the head of the defense. It shouldn't be that hard to adjust to playing defensive end."