Recruitment Of A Parade All-American Football Star

This is the first of a two-part feature series on the recruitment of Auburn freshman wide receiver Ben Obomanu.

Auburn, Ala.--The recruiting process can make for a stressful senior year for any highly touted high school star who attracts the interest of multiple college coaches seeking his services on the football field. However, when you are one of the most sought after recruits in the country your whole world can get turned on its head.

If the prospect wants to seriously participate in the recruiting process, his daily schedule has to be built around the barrage of letters, visits from coaches and calls that he receives from the top football schools in the country. And when your family, friends and fans of all the schools recruiting you have different ideas of where you should go, the already pressure-filled decision of where to attend college is increased ten-fold.

For Auburn signee and Parade All-American Ben Obomanu the daily activities of his senior year did not include the carefree simplicity of only having to deal with classes, girls, friends, prom and sports. His high school days were not only spent in classes and participating in football, basketball and track while still maintaining a social life. Obomanu's days also involved pondering and discussing which college field he would be catching touchdown passes on for the next four years.

Ben Obomanu is shown working out on the Auburn campus this summer. He is expected to contribute early this fall for the Tigers, Tommy Tuberville says. The wide receiver from Selma High School says he kind of enjoyed all of the attention that was placed on him. "In the beginning it was just fun talking to a lot of people, knowing that they were interested in what I was doing," he says.

However, the number of letters and calls that Obomanu received each day throughout his senior year was dizzying. "On an average I probably got maybe 15 letters," he says. "As for calls--well, one of the bad things about it was that I played basketball and ran track so I didn't get home until 9 o'clock each night so I only answered about three or four calls each night. But, in actuality, there were about 10 calls each night."

Obomanu is shown during a game as a senior at Selma High.

The constant barrage of letters, calls and visits from college coaches meant that Obomanu would have to make significant changes in his lifestyle. "On an average day it kind of disrupted some things like doing homework and all that kind of stuff," he says. "So I had to learn to adjust my schedule, like doing my homework at school or doing it in the mornings or something like that." However, Obomanu says he didn't let the pressure get to him. "After I adjusted to it it became kind of fun," he says.

The honor student says he recalls one time when things got a little bit crazy. "I remember one day when Auburn coaches came, Alabama coaches came, LSU coaches and Florida coaches all came on the same day. It was really hectic because LSU and Florida both came at the exact same time, and LSU had to wait outside the office."

Obomanu kept a lot of college football fans wondering where he was going to sign until late in the recruiting process.

Along with the daunting task of trying to decide where to attend college with numerous schools trying to influence you to lean their way, Obomanu's family and friends had their opinions of whose scholarship the wide receiver should take.

"Everybody had their own school that they wanted me to go to," he says. "A lot of my family members really wanted me to come to Auburn. I also had a lot of people who wanted me to go to Florida, too. Back when Spurrier was there they pushed me, they really wanted me to go to Florida. There wasn't any pressure though. Everybody just wanted to give me their opinion--I see you in an Auburn jersey or I see you in a Florida jersey. That is basically what it was."

In addition to the suggestions from family and friends, media speculation and Internet rumors that surround blue chip choices can be very tough on some kids. However, Obomanu seems to have taken it for what it was worth and handled the situation very smoothly.

"It didn't affect me, but it was kind of funny," he says. "A lot of coaches would call and say, ‘Ben, I hear that you're leaning toward Auburn or I hear that you're leaning toward Florida' and some of the other schools would call and ask if that was true. Plus, then the coaches of the schools I was supposed to be leaning toward would call and say, ‘You haven't told us that you're leaning toward us.' So reading some of the things that people published about me and where they wished I would go it was kind of fun, just knowing that a lot of people were interested in where I was going to spend the next four or five years."

Obomanu says that as it got closer to signing day he took a few steps back from the speculation to concentrate on his decision. "Probably about a week before I signed I didn't read any newspapers or Internet articles or anything. But afterwards when I looked and saw stuff like today's the big day when Ben is going to announce he's going to Alabama. I was like awwh, I probably disappointed a lot of people."

Although Obomanu had to disappoint other teams and their fans, he notes that it was not due to his being a diehard Auburn fan growing up. "I didn't have any favorite schools," he says. "Of course, I always liked Alabama at times and Auburn at times, too, but there never was one school."

Even without bleeding orange and blue growing up, Obomanu knew going into the recruiting period that the situation in Auburn was one that he was very interested in. "Well, heading into my senior year I thought that Auburn was a good school, plus the fact that they were in-state," Obomanu explains. "I really was impressed with Jason Campbell and the class they had coming in--Carnell (Williams) and some of those guys and I thought it was a great opportunity."

Obomanu was a standout in three sports in high school and also played defense in football, but he will concentrate on being a wide receiver at Auburn.

However, Obomanu says that he noticed that Auburn was becoming an even more appealing situation later on in the recruiting process. "Then, toward the end of my senior year, I was looking at some of the players that they were recruiting and looking at how they got more focused on the wide receivers and then it really jumped out at me that this was a great opportunity."

Editor's Note: Part two is scheduled for Thursday.


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