Man-Child Has Big Visit To Auburn

Talented junior defensive end Dante Fowler talks about his trip to Auburn on Sunday.

St. Petersburg, Fla.--When the 2012 prospect rankings come out early next year one of the names that will likely be prominently featured is Dante Fowler from Lakewood High. Despite being 6-3, 237 with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, Fowler is still just 15 years old and won't turn 16 until early next month. That combination of size, freakish ability and youth has earned him the nickname ‘Man-Child' by his teammates.

It has also sent schools from all over the Southeast into a frenzy seeing how Fowler has performed at several camps this summer. Coming off a season when he made 60+ tackles and added 16 sacks, schools such as Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss and several others have already started giving him plenty of attention.

Sunday it was Auburn's turn to show what they have to offer as Fowler and several other players from the Tampa-St. Pete area including Terry Bell came to the Plains. After getting a tour of the facilities and having a chance to talk to Auburn's coaches, Fowler said he's very impressed by the Tigers and Gene Chizik's program.

"My visit was awesome," Fowler said. "It was better than what I expected. I got toured around by some pretty girls and that was good. I liked the academic side of things. I got to meet the players and talk to the coaches and go over some football stuff. We talked to the equipment manager and saw some videos about Auburn. That was pretty good. Basically they're like family up there. That's one part I like about Auburn, it's all about family."

Expecting a quiet and laid back atmosphere, Fowler said he was surprised by how much was going in in and around the football complex on a Sunday and around town. He said getting to see the campus and also talk to several Florida-born players including Eric Smith gave him a good feel for what to expect if he came to Auburn.

"They were telling me that it's real fun but it's going to be like a business thing," Fowler said. "The coaches are real open. Once you go there it's like family, it's like you're their own son. He said with the other coaching staff that it was just football and you were on your own. The new staff they have, you do football and after that you can chill with your coaches. I like that part a lot. It was real nice. The football players seemed real open and funny. That's good because I'm a real goofy kid. That's what I really liked about it."

Having already visited Florida State, Georgia and Ole Miss in addition to Auburn, Fowler said he's getting an early chance to see some of the schools interested in him. He's quick to point out though that because he's got so much time before he has to make a decision he's taking things very slow.

"I'm taking it all in because I'm just going to be a junior," Fowler said. "I do notice schools that I would like to have right now. They are Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida State, Tennessee and I'm going to see what Alabama has. If they are what I expect then I'll put them on my list. Those are basically the schools I have attended so that's who I like."

With several of those schools having already offered, including Auburn, Fowler said it's kind of surreal to be in this position at such an early age but he considers it a blessing.

"When you think about getting an offer it's just a blessing to me because there are people out there that don't have the ability and talent I have," Fowler said. "There are some people in the hospital that can't play football. It's a good blessing and I have to strive to do better in school and get even better grades and have a heck of a football season."

Saying he's expected to grow to 6-5 or better according to his doctor, Fowler said not only is he looking for physical growth but he's looking to improve as a player on the field as well heading into his junior year.

"After my season last year and doing good at these camps I'm going to get a lot of double teams," Fowler said. "I'm looking forward to that. I'm just getting stronger and learning my techniques and getting that down pat. I'm just going to do what I've got to do."

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