Auburn, Ala.--Jay Prosch said that being able to attend college closer to home near his ailing mother has made him happy. The news that he has received a waiver of the NCAA transfer rule, clearing him to play for the Auburn Tigers this fall, has made the football player even happier.
The 6-0, 253 fullback from Mobile will be a junior for Coach Gene Chizik’s Tigers this fall after two strong seasons playing for the University of Illinois.
Prosch said on Friday that when he got a phone call from Chizik on Thursday with the information about the waiver being granted he had no previous warning that good news was on the way.
In fact, he noted that he assumed he was being called for more information in regard to his appeal to waive the rule that requires players moving from one Division I football program to another to sit out of competition for one full season. However, under special circumstances the NCAA will waive the rule, which happened in this case.
With Prosch making the transfer to Auburn in January to be closer to his mother, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in the spring of 2011, his case was worthy of being reviewed and approved by the NCAA.
“I was starting to get concerned, but after spring ball I decided I was just going to put everything in God’s hands,” Prosch said when he was asked if he was worried about the amount of time the appeal was taking.
The fullback made it a point to thank everybody who helped in the process from his coaches, Auburn administrators, the NCAA and anybody else who made it possible.
“I really appreciate all of the hard work they did,” Prosch stated.
“I also want to thank the community and fans," he added. "Throughout this they have been very supportive. When people say the 'Auburn Family,' they really mean 'Auburn Family' because ever since I have been here I feel like part of the family so it has been great.”
Prosch earned Pro Football Weekly first team All-America honors for his role as a blocker with the Illini last season. He was also an outstanding performer on special teams at the Big 10 school, where he was the lead blocker for tailbacks who rushed for more than 1,000 yards the past two seasons.
The fullback is shown at an Auburn spring practice.
Prosch, a star high school player at UMS-Wright in Mobile, earned All-State honors on the 4A state championship squad as a strong-blocking, junior offensive guard. He moved to linebacker for his senior year and made 199 tackles, prompting high praise from UMS-Wright coach Terry Curtis, who said that he believes Auburn has added an outstanding player and person with Prosch on the roster.
Prosch grew up wanting to play collegiately for the Tigers, but did not have a scholarship offer out of high school from Auburn. However, Illinois saw his potential as a blocking fullback because of his physical style of play in high school.
“At Illinois that (blocking) is pretty much all I did,” Prosch said. “I didn’t really run the ball. I didn’t really get thrown the ball. I just kind of ran leads and tried to run people over and make a hole for the running back.
“Honestly, that is what I love doing,” he added. “Coming out of high school I had never played fullback, and I was kind of nervous about it. As soon as I started playing it the first few games, I realized this was a position I like to play.”
In January, with the blessing of the coaches at Illinois, he transferred to Auburn to be closer to his mother. He was immediately put on scholarship at Auburn.
Being so much closer to home has been what he hoped it would be. “I am already happy,” he said. “Throughout spring ball, and already through summer, I have been able to go home and see my mom so much. It has been completely different and it has been awesome. I was already happy. Either way I would have been happy so this great.”
The trip from the Illinois campus was about 14 hours to his home in Mobile. He can drive there in less than four hours from Auburn.
“It has been amazing,” the fullback said. “Weekends where I don’t have anything, or I don’t need to be here, I can just drive home or ride home with my sister a lot of times and go home and be with my mom and my other sister who lives in Mobile. The only sister I don’t get to see is my older sister, who lives in North Carolina. It has been a shock for me, but I am starting to get used to it now.”
Commenting on his mother’s health, he said, “She is being strong now. A few months ago she got a diagnosis that the tumor is progressing. She is still staying strong and being hopeful and fighting it altogether. She is great.”
Last fall she was doing well enough to travel to Champaign-Urbana to see her son’s home games. “I would say November is when she started having problems again,” Prosch recalls.
He noted that she came to the 2012 Auburn spring game, which he said was “really cool,” and he has high hopes she will be able to attend Auburn games this fall to see her son play for the Tigers.
As the only scholarship fullback on the team with Auburn changing its offensive system this year to include fullback plays, Prosch is expected to be a key part of what new offensive Scot Loeffler does this fall. Most likely that role will be to block, block and block some more, but the fullback said he is ready to be a runner or receiver if needed.
“I wouldn’t mind it, but I am not asking for it,” he said. “I am a team player and will do whatever it takes to win. It would be nice if it happens a few times.”
Asked how his hands are as a receiver, on a scale of 1-10, the former lineman and linebacker joked, “An eleven.”
Prosch noted that now there is no doubt that he can play in games this fall it is full speed ahead, mentally and physically, preparing for his first season of SEC football. “Now that it is has happened, I can kind let loose and get ready.” he said.
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