Carver defensive lineman Gabe Wright needed a little help clearing his head as he prepared to announce Wednesday whether he would sign with Auburn or Tennessee.
The decision became so bothersome that he spent the previous three nights in a hotel away from everything else.
“My brother had to put me up in a hotel because I had to get away from it all,” Wright said. “I took my cell phone and laptop, but I agreed to stay away from all that. I just wanted to have fun with recruiting and wait these three days out.”
But even with all the quiet time, Wright said he didn’t know he would sign Auburn until about three hours before ESPNU was scheduled to do a live broadcast as he and Carver running back Isaiah Crowell made their college announcements at Occasions Event Center on Victory Drive.
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“It was still a hard choice to make,” said Wright, who is ranked by ESPN as the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle. “It’s hard to put your heart and soul into a university and just really make your mind up. I know Isaiah said he was always going to go to Georgia, and that’s something I really knew, but to be honest, I never knew until today who would come out on top between Auburn or Tennessee because I really like them both.”
With a heavy sigh, Wright said he felt comfortable with his choice as he, Crowell and three other teammates signed with FBS colleges on Wednesday. Linebacker Mike Davis signed with Memphis, linebacker and safety Quintavius Harrow signed with Georgia and offensive lineman Quincy McKinney signed with South Carolina.
All but Crowell and Wright were committed prior to the ceremony, which took the burden off of the decisions they had kept guarded for so long.
“I was like, now I can be relieved and get this off my shoulders,” Crowell said when asked what was going through his mind in the final minutes before making his announcement. “I just had to go through with it.”
While Crowell faces pressure to turn a program around as part of Georgia’s “Dream Team” recruiting class, Wright heads to Auburn, where there are national championship expectations to uphold. Yet the defensive lineman said he was interested in building a legacy on the Plains and not living on one built by others. He even went so far as to have ‘Nick Who’ embroidered on his Auburn hat, a nod to departing defensive lineman Nick Fairley.
“If I win a state championship in high school, middle-schoolers are going to want to come here,” Wright said. “But (Auburn’s national championship) wasn’t a big deal. Their team is successful on the field and off the field, so that didn’t have anything to do with my decision.”
Of the five FBS signees, all but Davis can expect to meet again in 2011. Crowell, Harrow and Georgia host McKinney and South Carolina on Sept. 10 and Wright and Auburn on Nov. 12, and Auburn hosts South Carolina Oct. 1.
“It’s cool that I get to play against a couple of my teammates: Isaiah, Gabe and Quintavius with two of them at Georgia and one at Auburn,” McKinney said. “It’ll be pretty exciting the next few years playing against my teammates.”
“We feel like he was the best defensive tackle in the country and he was a major target for us,” said Chizik, who fended off a late charge by Tennessee for Wright’s services. “Things can get confusing down at the end, but I feel like in his heart of hearts, he was Auburn through and through.”