St. Matthews, S.C.--It’s not the first time around the block in the recruiting world for Calhoun County coach Walt Wilson. With current South Carolina star Alshon Jeffrey going through the same thing last year, Wilson says he’s seen how the recruiting game works.
Because of that he says he’s proud of the way Auburn’s newest commitment Eric Mack handled things despite having the normal ups and downs of any 17 or 18-year old high school student and having the weight of a state on his shoulders for much of the last few months
The following is a question and answer session with Coach Wilson.
ITAT: Talk about what kind of player and person that Auburn is getting in Eric Mack.
Coach Wilson: “I like to talk about the person first. He’s a great kid who I have watched develop for four years. Mack came here when I came here four years ago. He was one of my first class when you come into a new position. He was a kid that we didn’t think he would play as quick as he did.
"I called him ‘Big Puppy’ because he was a big body, but he was still a puppy. You’ve got to be a puppy before you’re a dog. Character-wise he’s basically with his mom. She makes sure he does every little thing right, stays on his P’s and Q’s and is respectful. I have actually seen her drag Mack back to the school because he had an appointment with Coach (Eric) Wolford and Coach Beamer.
“Mack is a passionate guy who sometimes has moods and he must have been in one of those moods. Mom wasn’t trying to hear moods, he had a responsibility and he needed to be here. If I had a daughter I would let Mack date her. That’s the kind of person I feel he is. He’s going to do the right thing.
"He has a passion and that passion makes him a little hard to understand sometimes, but that’s what makes our business as coaches fun. Everybody is not the same. Your job as a coach is to pull all these different personalities together to get one goal.
“Everybody asks me the same first question, about character. I know where that’s coming from. It bothers me a lot about that because a kid is just being a 17 or 18-year old kid. He’s had some female problems and at that age what’s important to me, my girlfriend. If you’re going to base the whole process of basically where you were dying to have him on two days, because he’s still a young man and going through some things, maybe it wasn’t a fit.
“Sometimes the best breaks are when both ends are equal. I don’t sugarcoat anything. I feel they want to make a clean break. I actually saw where basically they’re saying they withdrew the offer. That’s fine. Out of respect to the university I’ll roll with that, but one thing I won’t roll with is you attacking my kids’ character when all of the sudden it’s the worst and it’s worthy of you pulling a scholarship that you offered two years ago. That makes you say hmmm.
“But we’re not here for that. Today is a great day because I watched a young man grow up from a puppy to be a lead dog. By him sitting down at that table today showed me I have done my job. He’s grown up now. Whoever takes that hand now, which we know is Auburn, they’ve got to keep on developing.”
ITAT: How nice was it to hear him say it wasn’t about the coaches when making a decision, but more about the university.
Coach Wilson: “We talk. I told him in this day and age you see what’s going on. You’re going to school for the coach? There’s no loyalty. You’ve got to visualize yourself being at a school when you’re not playing football. Can you actually survive at the school and enjoy yourself with the school and take the football and athletics out. That’s what he did with Auburn.
“I’ll be honest with you, the kid fell in love with Auburn. Out of respect to this state, that’s what makes me mad too, out of respect to this state he continued to try to convince himself that this (South Carolina) is still what he wanted to do. Out of respect to this state. He fought it and fought it until I guess he couldn’t fight it anymore. I just said there is a right way you do everything. I’m hoping everyone sees that after they’ve calmed down a little bit. The kid tried to do it the right way.”
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