Lovejoy Teammates Love The Tigers

Isom and friends talk about the decision to sign with Auburn.

Lovejoy, Ga.--Lovejoy lineman Byron Isom announced his decision to sign with Auburn over South Carolina the night before National Signing Day because of the education he will receive and the support of the academic counselors.

"That's what pulled it out," Isom says.

Father Lee Isom Sr. says that he didn't have much influence in his son's decision because he knew he would make the right choice.

"I told him that it's his decision," his father says. "He needs to be comfortable wherever he goes. Pretty much that's it. Auburn is a great town, Carolina is a great town. They're both good programs. It's over now. He's happy and so am I.

"I'm glad it's over and he made a good choice," he adds. "I'm really impressed with the academic advisors. They do a good job over there. It's all over and we're ready for the next step."

It wasn't enough that Isom was torn between the Tigers and Gamecocks, but he was also torn between his teammates. Receiver Chris Hail, a commitment to South Carolina, was pulling him toward Columbia while QB/RB Mario Fannin, who is expected to be a tailback for the Tigers, was pulling him toward Auburn.

Byron Isom, left, is shown at Lovejoy High School with teammates Chris Hail (center) and Marion Fannin (right). The Tigers and Gamecocks are scheduled to play in Columbia in late September. "I didn't know who he was going to choose," Fannin says. "I don't think anybody knew. I'm happy for him though and it'll be nice having a teammate come to Auburn with me.

"I'll be there early this summer, but we'll be down there in February and March, this spring," Fannin adds. "Me and him will get acclimated to the campus and start getting used to it and things like that."

Isom says that he liked everything about both schools and he also received helpful advice from his coaches.

"Coach (Hugh) Nall was a great recruiter and South Carolina had a great recruiter also," he says. "My coaches told me not to pick a coach, but to pick a school because coaches can leave at any time. I was torn, but I had to go where my heart wanted me to go. I'm just so glad that it's over with and I'm excited about going to Auburn."

Isom's mother and father said before the announcement that they were just as eager as everyone else to find out their son's decision. Lovejoy coach Al Hughes says he couldn't get a read on him either.

That's because Isom himself was still debating his decision even at the podium.

"I didn't have a clue," Hughes says. "I saw his sheets where he had things averaged up on and it was pretty much a deadlock. I really kind of thought he might have been leaning the other way. I'm pleased with him no matter what and it's a win/win for him."

Hughes adds that Tommy Tuberville and staff will be adding two good football plays and two great kids to the program.

"He's a great kid," Hughes says of Isom. "A great kid. You can't hardly find them any better. This was just tearing him apart the last couple of months trying to narrow it down."

Fannin and family are all smiles and ready to sign with Auburn.

It wasn't as tough of a decision for Fannin, who gave his verbal commitment to the Tigers on July 20, 2005.

"He's a special, special athlete," Hughes says of Fannin. "He is wired sky high. He's got a great sense of humor, great attitude and you have to unplug him. He's wound up."

Eleven or more student/athletes from Lovejoy High are expected to sign scholarship papers to play college football, with a majority going to Albany State.

Isom's Decision

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