Owen Pappoe picked up his first college offer when he was 14 years old. Within 10 days, that total was up to four. That was in April 2015, and Pappoe was in middle school.
So it seemed almost unbelievable to see him finally make his college commitment Tuesday evening. Pappoe committed three full years after his first salvo of offers. That is a sentence that is not typed oftenhttps://www.seccountry.com/lsu/booger-mcfarland-criticizes-matt-canada-for-lsu-stintcal in the college football recruiting world.
He was surrounded by a bank of cameras and devices set to live stream his decision across several media properties.
The decision was Auburn. As recently as two weeks ago, he was wearing a Georgia backpack. He’s going to have to trade that in for one that is navy blue and burnt orange.
“It was just a place that every time I went there it felt like home,” Pappoe said of Auburn.
Pappoe rates as the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker prospect and No. 8 overall prospect for 2019 in the 247Sports composite.
He said that he had made that decision well in advance of his commitment ceremony on Tuesday.
“I know that I can come in there as a freshman and make a big impact,” Pappoe said.
He picked up his offer from Auburn in that initial 10-day window of offers in middle school offers. The early offer was warranted. Pappoe subsequently went on to average double-digit tackles per game as his school, Grayson in Loganville, Ga., made its state title run in 2015.
Pappoe’s decision will sting for Georgia fans. This pledge to Auburn is a rare miss for the Bulldogs with a 5-star priority target in the Kirby Smart era. Five-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown went to Auburn in the Class of 2016, but that could be chalked up to the late start Smart had in recruiting just after he was hired.
The Bulldogs also missed on 5-star wide receiver Demetris Robertson that year. Aubrey Solomon, another 5-star DT, chose Michigan in 2017. The Bulldogs also lost 5-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence to Clemson early in the 2018 cycle but recovered nicely to sign 5-star dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields.
Georgia had hoped to close out its inside linebacker class for 2019 with Pappoe. The Bulldogs already have pledges from J.D. Bertrand and Trezmen Marshall.
What Owen Pappoe’s decision means going forward
Georgia will not be able to sign a full class of 25 prospects in 2019. Pappoe would have been the fourth 5-star commitment for the 2019 class.
His decision — should it hold until he enrolls early in January 2019 — now makes it much tougher for the Bulldogs to repeat with the nation’s top class in 2019.
He is a special player. Pappoe’s testing in Nike’s The Opening regionals in April shows he is a rare prospect. The soon-to-be three-time The Opening finalist becomes the first 5-star commitment for the Tigers in the Class of 2019.
If the pledge holds, he will be the first 5-star signee for the Tigers since tackle Calvin Ashley in 2017. Brown and Greenville 4 -star defensive end Marlon Davidson also signed with Auburn in 2016.
Auburn’s class stands at six pledges for the 2019 cycle. Pappoe’s decision gives the program the nation’s No. 19 class on the 247Sports team composite rankings. The Tigers stand ninth in the SEC among those team composite rankings.