ORLANDO — If you asked CJ Avery where his heart was on Nov. 25, he wouldn’t have said Louisville.
“It was at Auburn,” Avery said at the Under Armour All-America media day.
The next day, Avery traveled from Grenada, Miss., to Louisville to take his final official visit. Avery indicated before the trip that the official visit would play a major role in his final decision, no matter which school he chose.
He departed from his OV to the Cardinals. In two days, everything changed.
“The official visit kinda showed me that it was the spot. It was just me being there, the people there. They came up to me. They greeted me. Academic-wise, everything was comfortable,” Avery said. “I thought it was an all-around good fit … It was just how I felt. I felt really comfortable there on my official visit. I’ve got a good relationship with the coaching staff. It helped me get to the next level.”
It still wasn’t a guarantee that he’d end up at Louisville, but it started to feel like he knew he was trending in the Cardinals’ direction.
At that point, the three schools that remained in serious consideration were Louisville, Auburn and Mississippi State. The Cardinals began to edge out the Tigers and the Bulldogs. If Avery had any reservations, they were eliminated once he started to look deeper into then-secondary coach Wesley McGriff’s potential departure.
Avery decided on Dec. 14, which came prior to McGriff’s exit. But Avery shared a deep family connection with McGriff who coached Avery’s father at the college level. That family friendship played a major part in Avery putting the Tigers near the top.
As rumors swirled about McGriff leaving Auburn, it helped re-assure Avery that Louisville was the right place for him.
“It was a big factor, man, because McGriff was a vital role of why I would’ve chose Auburn. I just felt kinda iffy about it. I didn’t want to take that risk,” Avery said. “It wasn’t for sure, but I just kinda felt that McGriff was going to leave. I didn’t want to take that risk.”
Avery confirmed Tuesday that Auburn came in a solid second place.