AUBURN, Ala. — If Ricardo Louis leaves Auburn without making another catch, he can rest comfortably knowing that his legacy is secure.
Just in case he ever forgets, fans are quick to remind him. That comes with the territory, though. All one has to do is watch last season's game against Georgia. With just 25 seconds remaining, Louis etched his name in Auburn lore on the contest's final score — an incredible 73-yard touchdown catch-for-the-ages off a deflected pass — which helped Auburn walk away with a 43-38 victory.
Now the play follows him like a shadow.
“Every time I’m out (fans want me) to do the pose or ask me what was I thinking,” he said. “After I caught it I was getting the same response. I just smile and I tell them it was one in a million. A feeling like, I can’t replay the feeling that I felt at that time. I just embrace it. I didn’t know what to do.”
He still doesn’t.
“It’s crazy. It still hasn’t like really hit me like, that’s a really great catch,” Louis said. “(It was) a great play and a great moment to help us move forward in the season. People bring it up all the time. I kind of get tired of it sometimes, but at the same time, that’s what people want to see.”
But it’s a catch he didn’t make that has occupied his mind this offseason: a drop on the first possession of the BCS championship game.
“I watch it over and over,” Louis said. “I should’ve made the play. What would happen if I would have made that play? That’s how I look at it.”
With no Florida State defender within 10 yards of him, it might have been an easy touchdown for the Tigers — that is, if Nick Marshall’s pass hadn’t been underthrown. If he could go back and do it over, Louis said he would have turned around and stopped.
“Maybe I was thinking ‘score’ because I was so wide open,” he said. “But if I would have stopped I probably would’ve fell down but still got a like 40-yard gain.”
While it would have helped if Marshall had hit him in stride, Louis said any fault should be placed on him alone.
“It can be overthrown, underthrown, but wherever it’s at, you got to go make the play,” he said.
And who knows what might have happened if Louis had hauled the ball in? The Tigers went on to punt on their opening drive, with Louis’ near-catch a notable missed opportunity. When the clock struck zero, Auburn was on the short end of a 34-31 decision. As much as Louis would like to move on, it’s been nearly impossible.
Blame his friends who attend Florida State.
“I follow them on social networks and I always see them showing it off, how they won,” said Louis, who hails from Miami, Fla. “I always think about it. ‘What can I have done better? What could we have done better as a team?’ I try to move past it, move forward and think about what I can do next season to help us win.”
Since getting back to Auburn after its narrow defeat in the BCS title game, Louis likes what he’s seen, specifically from Marshall.
“We know to have a good season between quarterback and receiver you have to have a good relationship off the field and on the field. That's what Nick did,” Louis said. “He brought us together after class or whatever we were doing and we'd work out (and) work on specific routes."
Louis has also been pleased with his fellow receivers. With the return of Sammie Coates, the continued development of young wideouts Marcus Davis, Tony Stevens and Dominic Walker and the arrival of early enrollees D’haquille Williams and Stanton Truitt, Louis said there is “a lot more competition” than in years past. Louis said the same goes for the rest of the offense, which is “coming on really well.”
If Auburn is able to duplicate last season’s success and avenge last year’s loss in the national championship game, Louis made it clear which unit he wants leading the charge.
“We're working hard trying to come together as a team and do what we did last year and have another great season,” he said. “We're trying to become the best offense in the country.”