Obomanu to Auburn: The Inside Story

A look at why prep All-American Benjamin Obomanu plans to become an Auburn Tiger.

Selma, Ala.--This was a day that Ben Obomanu and his family had been looking forward to for months. This was the day that the Parade All-American wide receiver would finally announce his decision on the college he plans to attend for the next four or five years.

In front of several hundred people, most of whom were family and friends, the speedy receiver told all that he would become an Auburn Tiger. That simple action sent the Selma gym into a frenzy as people cheered and clapped at the announcement. For Obomanu, it's now time to move on to a new chapter in his life. The chapter known as "The Auburn Years."

Obomanu shows off an Auburn jersey and hat at Monday's press conference.

"It's kind of exciting knowing that I finally got this chapter through in my life and now I can really anticipate playing football for the Auburn Tigers," he said Monday. "It was kind of lingering in my mind for a long time. Back in December, I had it narrowed down to Auburn and Florida and then something happened at both schools and that's when the other schools jumped in the picture. Once they got the new offensive coordinator (Bobby Petrino) and I really got a chance to talk to Coach (Tommy) Tuberville and some of the other coaches, I really felt comfortable there. It still was the right place for me to go. You always have that feeling that your first instinct is probably the right one. I just went with my first instinct and I felt that it was the right place."

While many think the pressure of choosing a school is just on the student-athlete, Obomanu's uncle, Samuel Randolph, said this is a family decision. Being a close-knit group that looks out for each other, Randolph would often accompany the star receiver on his official and unofficial trips to schools around the country hoping to help the decision process along. In the end he said it was all worth it, but it did become strenuous at the end.

"Coming down the stretch it was real hectic," he said. "Coaches calling you and visiting you. If the coaches couldn't get in touch with Ben they would call me all times of the night. We're very excited about the whole ordeal. We sat down as a family and came to the conclusion that we wanted Ben to stay in-state. We are a family that is close together and we like to go see him play. It came down to LSU and Auburn."

Though Obomanu and his family liked the atmosphere and surroundings in Baton Rouge, in the end it came down to the family thing again. The clincher for Auburn may have been the recruiting of Joe Whitt and his down-to-earth style of talking to players and parents alike. Known by many coaches and others on the high school and collegiate sports scene in the state of Alabama and well respected by anyone who gets to know him, Whitt made a big impression on Obomanu's family and Randolph said that was the final link in the chain that would tie Obomanu to Auburn.

A happy Obomanu jokes with his coaches just before the press conference begins.

"I just want to give the credit to Coach Whitt," Randolph noted. "Coach Whitt came in here and got close to our family, bonded with the family. The other coaches came in, but we didn't have that family bond with them. I want to give credit to Coach Whitt, he did an outstanding job recruiting. Once Coach Whitt tells you something, he always says ‘go back and check on it.' The other coaches would say something and when we went back and checked on it, it would be a whole different story. They might say. ‘We're only recruiting two wide receivers,' but when you pull up their stat charts there would be like 8-10 wide receivers. We wanted to be with somebody that was honest with us and we're just looking forward to Ben playing at Auburn. As a matter of fact, my whole family has to convert. All of us were Alabama fans. I've been joking with my co-workers practicing how to say War Eagle and they tell me I say it too fast. We're really excited and looking forward to Ben coming to Auburn."

To say he's not alone in that thinking would be the understatement of this recruiting season.

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