Wanna get away?
No, we’re not talking about the old Southwest Airlines tagline, but instead what many high school football recruits around the Southeast are saying as we head into Memorial Day weekend. The preferred destination for most: Auburn University, for the fourth annual “Big Cat Weekend.”
What is “Big Cat Weekend?” Well, it’s just about the most exclusive, unique and (apparently) fun weekend, any high school junior with SEC talent can take. This isn’t a “junior day” per se, and definitely isn’t the summer camp scene that every college program will be involved with later this month. As a matter of fact, Big Cat Weekend has little do with football, and more to do with getting to know a campus, coaching staff and potentially future teammates as well.
Auburn assistant coach Curtis Looper explained the unique event to AL.com:
"The productivity comes from the uniqueness of it of the event," Luper said. "Not anyone else in the country gets these many unofficial visits when it's not attached to a spring game or Junior Day or a camp. The reason it is popular is because kids know it's not going to be any football whatsoever, not unless it's someone here for the first time, and only then those guys will get a small introduction to Auburn football.
"But it's really an opportunity for the players to socialize and for the families to socialize with our families and our players. They can forget about football and recruiting for a weekend. We have a lot of unique games and contests, some Family Feud-type contests, and other unique things."
Damn, where do I sign up? Oh wait, that’s right, I’m not 6’3, can’t run a 4.4 and unfortunately, am not 17-years-old either. Oh well, maybe next year.
Regardless, it sounds like a good time, and as Looper mentioned in the article, it has turned into a major recruiting tool for Auburn. There have been 37 players that have attended one of the first three Big Cat Weekend’s who’ve ended up signing with the Tigers, with many more expected to eventually come from this weekend.
Now, to the fun part: Who might those recruits be? Well honestly, Looper isn’t saying, and with good reason: He’s terrified of rival coaches finding out. However, various outlets have reported that some of Auburn’s already committed recruits, like four-star defensive linemen Dee Liner, four-star wide receiver Earnest Robinson and quarterback Jeremy Johnson will all be in attendance. But with Looper indicating that the guest list might reach over 30 people, and just nine players currently committed to the Tigers, there are plenty of names we don’t know about too.
Maybe the most interesting fact about the weekend is the timing of it all: Memorial Day weekend. While other coaching staffs might try and get out of the office for the holiday weekend, Gene Chizik’s is hard at work, and if you don’t think this is all by design, well, you’re sadly mistaken. Big Cat Weekend was specifically picked for the long holiday, allowing for more travel time for the players and their families. According to Looper, some families are coming from as far away as Chicago and Washington D.C.
And oh, what a weekend they’ll have. More from Looper:
"Camps are right around the corner, and everybody will have these kids on campus to evaluate. They'll run and they'll jump and they'll throw and they'll catch. But this weekend, we'll have a cookout, a lot of contests and we'll keep it social and carefree," he said.
By the way, anyone down for a road trip?
For all his insight, analysis and articles on college football and beyond, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.