Talented Walk-On "Just Feels Comfortable Here"

One of the Tigers' five invited walk-ons talks about why he chose to attend Auburn and his expectations for his freshman season.

Auburn, Ala.--Despite having a scholarship offer from a big-time college program like Ohio State and having to make sure his parents could handle taking care of out-of-state tuition for at least one year, Stephen Gowland says that he has known for a long time that Auburn was where he wanted to play his college football.

"I have known that I wanted to come to Auburn since, probably, when I went to all of the camps before my senior year," he explains. "I just really loved the atmosphere and the coaches at Auburn and just everything about it. I came down to a bunch of the games and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and everything about it. I just feel comfortable here.

"My offensive coordinator told me that when making a decision you have to go where you are comfortable," Gowland continues. "He actually went to The Citadel. He had offers from bigger places, but he felt comfortable there, and I just feel at home here."

After hashing out all of the positives and negatives, Gowland made the decision to join the Auburn squad as an invited walk-on and moved to the Plains on June 1st, shortly after his graduation form Parkview High where he was a standout at tight end and defensive end.

Gowland, who says that he has been doing well in his only summer school class, notes that the early move was a good decision for him. "I definitely think it is good to get that initial bond with all of my teammates and everything," he notes. "When I first moved down I knew the guys numbers by heart, but seeing them without pads on is just kind of different."

Stephen Gowland was a two-way standout for the Parkview Panthers as a senior.

Along with getting started with classes and getting to know his new teammates, Gowland says he has had to learn the ropes of the Tigers' strength and conditioning program. "It is not high school anymore," he says with a laugh. "I will say that for sure. It is definitely challenging. He (Auburn Strength and Conditioning Coach Kevin Yoxall) is going to get us ready. There is no doubt about it. I am excited to see how much it can help me out and get some weight on me for the future."

The talented walk-on adds that he can already see some results in his physique from the last couple of months. "I got up to about 230, but right now I am weighing in at about 226," he says. "I have been putting on a little bit since the end of high school because I played at about 215 last year."

With his weight at only 226 on his 6-4 frame heading into his freshman season, Gowland is getting his first look at a position that he did not play very much of in high school. "I am actually playing fullback for right now," Gowland explains. "It is going to be interesting. I played a little bit in high school, but not too much. It is still offense and it is still blocking so I think I will be all right."

He also notes that he is going to get the chance to do something even more drastically different as well. "I was actually looking at the scout defense and they have me at will linebacker, so we will see how that goes working against some of the first team guys," he says.

"Yeah, that is totally different," he continues. "I have always been in the three point stance my whole high school career, so standing up on two might be kind of weird. Hopefully, I will just be able to let my athleticism take over and be all right, but it is going to be tough against the offense we are playing though."

Other than the obvious goal of trying to find a way to earn a scholarship, Gowland says that he has a few other things he would like to accomplish in his first season on the Plains.

"I just hope to stand out in the coaches' eyes and just play as hard as I can--definitely that is one of my goals," he notes. "I just want to push the guys and if I am not going to be playing on Saturdays to get the other guys ready. At least I want to be on the first scout team that all of the guys play against to get my teammates ready so that I can say I helped them to win all of these games we are going to win."

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