Crunch Time Coming For Rookie Ben Obomanu

Auburn, Ala.--For Seattle Seahawks rookie receiver Ben Obomanu, crunch time is just around the corner as he tries to make the roster with one of the top teams in the National Football League.

Auburn, Ala.--For Seattle Seahawks rookie receiver Ben Obomanu, crunch time is just around the corner as he tries to make the roster with one of the top teams in the National Football League.

The former Auburn University standout, who finished second in school history with 18 touchdown receptions, is headed back to the state of Washington at the end of the month to compete with other players for a roster spot.

One of three Auburn players selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, Obomanu was an honor student at AU who won the respect of his teammates and coaches for his work ethic on and off the field.

Ben Obomanu was effective in college running after the catch.

An early graduate in finance and an Academic All-SEC selection, he was a major contributor for four years. As a senior, Obomanu caught 33 passes for 357 yards and five scores. He also ran the ball seven times for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

For his career the receiver finished with 97 catches for 1,313 yards. He is 13th in career receiving yards in AU history.

"Camp has been going well so far," Obomanu tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I won't go back to training camp until July 26th, but so far for the first mini-camp we had right after the draft and in the second mini-camp we had things went well for me. I got lot a of experience catching the ball and I feel confident in my production and so do the coaches."

Obomanu is scheduled to report back to training camp at Eastern Washington University on July 30th after nearly a five-week break. During that time he has worked out with some of his former teammates such as wide receivers Jeris McIntyre and Anthony Mix as well as offensive tackle Marcus McNeill.

Obomanu says he hasn't had any real surprises so far in the first two pro camp sessions. "One of the things I was told before I went to camp is that I would find out the speed of the game in the NFL is faster than in college and it is true. The defensive ends and linebackers are 4.6 and 4.7 guys. All of those guys have a chance to catch up with you if you jog a little. All of the defensive backs are 4.4 and 4.3 guys. That is one of the biggest differences with everybody being fast, but once you get used to it after a while, things sink in."

The rookie says he believes the Seahawks will carry seven or eight receivers on the roster. "Right now they have about five guys who are probably legitimate locks--guys who have started and who have been in the league," he notes. "I am one of those guys looking for one of those last couple of spots. There are about four of us competing for those spots. I think it will be a healthy competition in training camp."

When asked what he believes the Seahawks are looking for at his position, he says, "They want smart and fast guys they can plug in at all of the wide receiver positions."

Obomanu notes there is a lot of excitement in the preseason after last year's strong run by the Seahawks. "The big talk with the Seattle Seahawks is about winning the Super Bowl this season," he says. "They had a lot of great things happen last season like most wins ever for the organization and getting to the Super Bowl for the first time.

"This year the talk is about just not reaching the Super Bowl, but winning it. They have a great nucleus of players already from what I have seen. Hopefully, everything works out for the team and this is a great opportunity for me as a rookie."

Gray is not the only former Auburn player on the roster. One of the NFL's veterans, offensive guard Chris Gray, played for the Tigers from 1989-1992.

"I talk to Chris Gray a lot," the rookie says. "We share Auburn stories. It has been a long time since he played at Auburn. He hasn't seen the new facilities--the weight room, the academic facilities and those type of things. It has been really good to have an Auburn guy there to help me and show me the ropes.

"Chris isn't the only Auburn guy there with me. Kevin Hobbs, who played with me for three seasons, is there with me as a rookie. That makes it even better. It has been a great experience for me and him." Hobbs is a free agent defensive back who was a former walk-on at Auburn.

Ben Obomanu makes a touchdown catch for the Tigers.

When asked about the controversy caused by a newspaper report questioning the success of the Auburn football team, which had one of the NCAA's top academic progress rates announced earlier this year, Obomanu says he and his teammates had to put in work off the field to be successful just like they did on the field.

"Everybody had to earn their degrees," he says. "I know for me on my end, it was about working hard and doing everything I needed to do to be able to graduate in three years. It is an unfortunate situation with what the article is talking about, but hopefully the investigation will show the truth of what happened.

"I think the coaching staff is very serious about academics and it starts immediately when you arrive as a freshman," Obomanu adds. "That is what the bridge program is implemented for--to help you make the adjustment from high school and help you realize how serious academics are at Auburn. They want us to utilize the opportunity we have to earn a degree and not just be there to play football. I think the academic department has done a great job of putting guys in position to graduate--the honest way."

When asked if he knew of any academic improprieties while at Auburn, he says, "I find that hard to believe from my time at Auburn. Even some of the players they were naming, I have seen them staying up late doing work. I have seen them studying on the bus. I find it hard to believe. Hopefully the truth will come out and it will turn out okay."

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