Hoover, Ala.--Josh Chapman had already seen enough of the Auburn football program to make a commitment to play for the Tigers but Saturday he finally got to experience a Saturday on the Plains for the first time. After playing Friday night in Tulsa, Okla. and not getting in bed until 4 a.m., Chapman says that while he was tired it didn't dampen his excitement about Saturday's festivities.
"It was the first Auburn game I've gone to and I felt the love of all the Auburn fans there," Chapman tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I felt like it was home. The Tiger Walk was fun with all of the fans out there. I could picture myself going through that next year."
With lifelong Auburn fan and fellow commitment Ryan Pugh serving as his tour guide, Chapman says he started his day early with a haircut at 9:30 a.m. before leaving for the game at 11 a.m. A full day on the Auburn campus gave him some time to get to know the traditions associated with Auburn football but it wasn't until he got into the stadium that he got to see what everybody had been telling him he couldn't miss.
"Before I got there everybody kept saying ‘you've got to see the eagle'," Chapman says. "When they told us to look at the section I had to hurry up and look. I saw the eagle flying around and it was nice how it landed on the ground at the 50-yard line. It soared all over the place."
From that point forward it was all football for Chapman as he had a chance to see Coach Will Muschamp's defense in action for the first time this season. Likely a noseguard in Auburn's defense down the road, Chapman watched as Josh Thompson and the Tigers controlled things early. He says that was something he hoped to see in the beginning of the season.
"I think they've got a pretty good team this year and they have a chance to win it all," Chapman says of the Tigers. "They impressed me a lot with the way they played. I like how they play and I see that I fit that really well."
Chapman is a clone of Tommy Jackson, who made the roster of the Atlanta Falcons after a strong preseason.
Auburn isn't the only team that is shooting for a national title this year as Chapman's Hoover team is currently ranked first in the country by Sports Illustrated. That ranking was put to the test Friday night as the Bucs traveled to Tulsa to face Union High School, a team with a 57-game home winning streak.
When they left the field Friday night it was clear Hoover belonged among the best in the country with a 34-7 whipping in front of nearly 18,000 fans at Union's field. With state of the art facilities that Chapman says makes Hoover look small in comparison, Union came out firing on its first drive by holding the ball nearly nine minutes before failing to score from Hoover's one-yard line. After that it was all over as the Bucs mauled the home team in front of a national television audience.
"Our trip to Oklahoma was nice," Chapman says. "We were ready to play. When we saw their facilities and their school we were saying that it didn't matter how much money they have here we're still the better team. The coaches kept talking about their facilities and how good they were. When we got out there we saw how loud the crowd was. We just put all that out of our minds and concentrated on football. The first drive was the longest drive I've ever played in. We stopped them from scoring on that drive and it was all downhill from there."
With everyone on their schedule shooting to knock them off, the Bucs will get back to action Friday night with a game against Carver High from Montgomery. Playing with an us against the world mentality, Chapman says the team is looking to remain perfect and keep alive its hopes of a national title.
"It kind of helps us to know that we're number one in the country and that we can't stop bringing our A game," Chapman says. "We have to treat every game like it's our last because it really is our last. That's like our game against Carver this week. If they beat us that's the end of our national chances."
Part of the reason for everyone shooting at Hoover this season is because of the exposure created by MTV's series "Two-A-Days" that documents the 2005 Bucs from the beginning to the end of last season. Chapman says that he watches the show but admits it doesn't have anything to do with this season's version of the Bucs because each team is different.
"I have seen the documentary," Chapman says. "I got done watching it a couple of hours ago. It's pretty good. The main thing is that we're all trying to put that in the back of our minds. That was last year's team. It's not a part of our team. That could bring us down so we don't focus on it. It's a nice show to watch but we don't put emphasis into it. I watch it to see if I'm on there. I see myself a lot."