Obomanu prepares for final season on the plains
Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 22, 2005
Ben Obomanu is still setting goals. The senior from Selma had a goal to become Boy of the Year, which he achieved in 2002.
He had a goal of speaking at the Boy of the Year Awards presentation, he did that last week.
“It was an exciting moment for me,” said Obomanu. “It was exciting for me to go back and share my experiences with the guys. I talked about getting the guys motivated and helped them out with some of the experiences they will have in the upcoming years in college and try to give them some advice and be leaders so they can be very productive their first years in college.”
Obomanu recently reached another milestone on his list of goals when graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Finance.
Now, he has an entirely new set of goals in front of him. Obomanu returns to the Loveliest Village on the Plains this summer to start taking classes in Auburn’s Graduate Studies Program, en route to fulfilling his goal of becoming a corporate lawyer for a Fortune 500 company.
“It’s my last year, I realized that I’ve been put in a place where me and other seniors can step up and lead the team,” said Obomanu. “I’m going to grad school and try to work on my MBA. But getting my degree and having that out of the way will allow me more time to look at film and prepare for teams. I’ve prepared myself for a very successful senior year.”
If his play on the gridiron remains as one of the top receivers in the SEC, he won’t have to worry about wearing a suit and tie to work. His work will be on Sunday afternoons in the National Football League.
But, even with that in the back of his mind, Obomanu is still humble.
“In your senior year you’ve got a lot of things going for you,” said Obomanu. “We joke about it being like the recruiting process all over again. You’ve got all the NFL scouts and you have to choose the agents and you are trying to focus on football but you have to worry about your future as well.”
While he is not thinking about the next step, he has met with professional scouts and attended “Pro Day.”
Obomanu began his college journey in the fall of 2002. During his senior season at Selma High School, Obomanu caught 31 passes for 460 yard and nine touchdowns. He also had 20 carries for 218 yard and three touchdowns and 284 all purpose kick return yards with one touchdown.
Those statistics earned him a scholarship to Auburn University.
“Even though I was less than two hours away from Selma, I was still kind of homesick,” said Obomanu. “Plus I was on a football team with a lot of guys that didn’t condone some of the things I believed it. It was tough coming from Selma High School to Auburn, where I was a little fish in a big pond.”
But, during that first year as a member of the Auburn football team, Obomanu finished second on the team with 17 catches for 224 yards and caught one pass in at least 10 of 13 ball games.
“It was a very exciting experience,” said Obomanu. “Playing in front of those people is something people dream about I get to do it first-hand.
It was exciting for me to realize that all those games I’ve seen on television and some of the games I went to before, now I’m getting to live a dream come true.”
For Obomanu, his first season in the orange and blue of Auburn was described as a tour.
“I visited some stadiums in a lot of different cities and stadiums that I had never been to before,” said Obomanu. “A lot of the other freshman with me had cameras and stuff and it was exciting getting to go to places I’ve never gotten to go to before.”
Obomanu quickly improved on those stats to become one of the anchors of Auburn’s wide receiving corp, being voted the most improved offensive skill player in 2003 and also winning the top freshman gpa award.
In 2003, Obomanu caught 22 passes for 373 yards, his most notable is 64-yard jaunt against Alabama in that year’s Iron Bowl.
The next year, Obomanu caught 25 passes for 359 yard and led the team with seven receiving touchdowns. Also, Obomanu led the team as the having the top GPA.
For his final season on the Plains, traveling to different places has become old hat.
“It’s become commonplace to me,” said Obomanu. “You learn how to prepare for different games and different teams. The workouts are not as strenuous now as they were when you started because you are getting used to them.”
With what Obomanu has going for him, youths look up to him as a role model.
“One thing we realize is that just by being seen playing football on the Division I-A level we are role models,” said Obomanu. “People recognize me in Auburn. Just when you think no one is watching people know you and people know that I’m a football player and know all my stats. I do consider myself a role model and try to carry myself as one.”
Despite playing football for three years, Obomanu is still startled when he meets an over-eager fan.
“Sometimes I don’t think that I’m as important or well known as some of the other guys and when that happens, it’s flattering but it’s kind of startling at the same time,” said Obomanu. “I appreciate the people that recognize me and come up and speak to me.”
When it comes to the kids that look to be in the position that he’s in later on down the road, Obomanu tells them to never give up their dreams.
“I know I had big dreams and never thought that I would be able to play sports on this level,” said Obomanu. “I thought I was going to go to Alabama A&M on an academic scholarship. But things took a 180 and I get to live a dream every weekend I get to go play football.”