Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Monday, and SEC Country got the latest from 5-star linebacker Owen Pappoe.
5-star linebacker gives latest on his recruitment
Owen Pappoe’s name has been a headline driver the last month.
Since he set his May 5 decision date — which has been changed to May 1 for television purposes — Pappoe has been the center of recruiting attention for Auburn, Georgia, LSU and others. Auburn and Georgia have been at the forefront of the conversation since he called the Bulldogs his No. 1 and the Tigers his No. 2 last month.
Several predictions have come in from reporters in the industry (including in these Auburn recruiting notebooks), but little has come directly from Pappoe since his three-day visit to the Plains last week.
Pappoe has seen and heard most of it and wanted to set the record straight. He spoke with my DawgNation colleague Jeff Sentell over the weekend to give the latest.
“If you don’t hear it from the man, don’t believe it. It’s just rumors,” Pappoe said.
Pappoe directs that at the many fans who have reached out to him in recent days under the impression the media trend toward Auburn was absolute truth. He sends the same message to all the local people who have operated under the assumption for many years that Pappoe (Grayson/Loganville, Ga.) would wind up playing for the home-state team.
He clarified that to Georgia coaches who reached out to him in the wake of the Auburn buzz.
“They’re like, ‘What’s all this talk about Auburn?’ I was like, ‘Coach, just let the media be the media.’ If they don’t hear it coming from me, just don’t listen to it. That’s what I told them,” Pappoe said. “Everybody [in his area] thinks I’m going to Georgia, so I let them think what they want to think.”
What has become abundantly clear — and Pappoe readily admits — is this has become close.
He told Barton Simmons of 247Sports that he has a strong feeling about the school he wants to commit to. In his conversation with SEC Country, Pappoe revealed for the first time that he has no leaders heading into the May 1 decision. That’s a major move from calling Georgia his top school for a majority of the process.
“It’s close,” Pappoe said. “How did Auburn catch up? Every time I went to Auburn was for a game or a camp. Everything was moving fast. I didn’t really spend time with the coaches like that. Getting to sit down with coaches and my family and just watch film with them, it really caught my eye.”
Pappoe’s regular visits to Auburn likely aren’t finished before his announcement.
The nation’s No. 1 linebacker has official visits set up the next two weekends to Penn State and Texas. He still plans to make it back to Auburn or Georgia for unofficial visits, but he won’t take officials there — at least this spring. Pappoe wants to save two official visit dates for the fall.
That brings up an obvious question: Will his recruitment be shut down on May 1?
The easy answer to that is no, but it needs a little more context than that. Pappoe will take those last two official visits this fall regardless of which school he chooses. That could be Auburn and Georgia. It could be two schools much more out of the norm from what he’s visited so far, much like the Penn State and Texas visits.
But Pappoe said he’ll be “pretty locked in” to the school he picks next month.
If that choice is Auburn, Pappoe said one factor will be key to maintaining that commitment.
“I just want to make sure I play with some dogs, so I want to see how this recruiting class goes,” Pappoe said. “I’ve been getting offers since eighth grade. I’ve put a lot of thought into it. I believe whatever decision I make will be the right one for me.”
Miss a previous Auburn recruiting notebook? Find every daily recap of Auburn Tigers recruiting right here.