Making an official visit to the Plains, the 6-3 ½, 230 standout from Weston High got his first taste of football Auburn style Saturday and he tells Inside The Auburn Tigers that he couldn't believe the people and their passion for the Tigers before, during and after the game.
"I was really impressed," Groves tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I was a little surprised because I didn't really know what to expect from an official visit. The hosts, the Tigerettes and the coaches made everything great and I just liked the way they conducted things. Their pre-game ceremonies were nice also."
Groves is shown in a photo taken at the 2002 Nike Combine in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Particularly moving to Groves was Auburn's tradition known as the Tiger Walk. Marching from Sewell Hall up Donahue Street to the stadium through thousands of well wishers, the time-honored walk has become a favorite of recruits in recent years and Groves is no different.
"I thought it was never going to end," Groves says of Tiger Walk. "There was 30,000 fans screaming and steadily shaking your hand. I was thinking ‘man, I could probably play here one day'. When I got into the stadium you couldn't hear anything. I've never seen 86,000 people before in my life and I was thinking ‘man'."
A dominating defensive end as well as part-time tight end, Groves led his team to only a 6-5 record this season despite putting up impressive stats. With 21 sacks and 60 tackles along with three catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, Groves displayed a knack for making the big play this season. A two-year starter, he says he improved his techniques before his senior season allowing him to control the line of scrimmage on defense. As a junior he led Class 5A in sacks with 14 and had 97 tackles.
Because of those numbers and a penchant for excelling in the weight room, Groves is a player that could contribute immediately to the college program he chooses in February. In fact he says he couldn't help but think about playing Saturday while he was watching the game from the stands.
"I was kind of envisioning myself in the game while they were playing," Groves says. "I could see myself playing against big Jon Stinchcomb or someone like that. I was thinking I could probably make a difference. Getting the techniques down and all the things they're going to teach me (if he decides on Auburn) I know I could make a difference."
Hosted by true freshman defensive end Kyle Derozan, who hails from Louisiana, Groves says that the two got along great and Derozan really helped him to understand what he could expect if he became a Tiger in the future.
"We got along good," Groves says. "That's my homeboy there. He said ‘the reason why I came here is because the coaches shoot you straight. What you see is what you get. They won't be nice to you one day and then dog you out the next. We're so close we're like a family here at Auburn'. I was very surprised at that."
Saying that Auburn is in his top two at the moment along with Georgia, Groves notes that he has visits set up to LSU this coming weekend and then to Georgia for the Georgia Tech game the following week. He will likely choose between Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Ole Miss for his final visits.
Tiger Ticket Extra:
Groves is teammates with a player Auburn is recruiting at defensive tackle. Big 6-3, 275 Devrick Hampton is considered one of the top interior defensive linemen in the South this season. He is wide open at the moment with Auburn one of the schools he's considering.