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Tank headed to Auburn

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

Tank will be rolling into Jordan-Hare stadium next season.

Callaway High’s Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, a five-star player and one of the country’s most heavily-recruited running backs, has signed a letter of intent to play football for the Auburn Tigers.

Bigsby verbally committed to Auburn shortly before the season started, and he made it official during a signing ceremony on Wednesday morning in the Callaway High gymnasium.

Also signing on Wednesday was Callaway offensive lineman Tate Johnson, who will join Bigsby at Auburn.

Bigsby announced his intention to sign with Auburn during a ceremony in August, and he never wavered on his commitment.

Bigsby plans on being an early enrollee at Auburn, meaning he’ll be able to participate in spring practice.

Bigsby will have some familiar faces around him at Auburn, including Johnson, his teammate for the past two seasons.

Callaway graduate Keiondre Jones, an offensive lineman, will be a red-shirt freshman at Auburn next season, and Troup High’s Kobe Hudson signed with Auburn on Wednesday.

“It’s real special, just to be able to be with the guys I played with at Callaway,” Bigsby said.

Bigsby completed his senior year with 1,636 yards on 143 carries with 27 touchdowns, and he ran for more than 2,000 yards as a junior.

Bigsby put the finishing touches on a spectacular high-school career by running for 270 yards in a state semifinal loss to Brooks County.

In typical fashion, Bigsby put his heart and soul into the Brooks County game, doing everything he could in an attempt to power his team to the win.

The team ultimately fell short, but it was nonetheless a memorable way for Bigsby to end his time as a Cavalier.

“He wanted to win, and he put the weight of the team on his shoulders,” said Matt Napier, Callaway’s offensive coordinator. “He wanted to take the team to the state championship, and he gave everything he had. You could see it after the game the way he was so emotional. If there’s anything you can say about the way he plays, he leaves it all on the field. He’ll be remembered for that forever.”

Pete Wiggins, Callaway’s head coach, said Bigsby always gave 100 percent, whether it was on game night, or in practice.

“You talk about Tank Bigsby, you have to talk about effort,” Wiggins said. “I’ve been coaching football a long time, and the effort he plays with, that he practices with, might be the highest I’ve seen. Talking to other coaches, and this means a lot to me, I hear those same comments. It’s incredible effort that he displays on the field, but I see it at practice. He’s going to run a play out 40 yards down the field each time. He cares about his team, he’s big-hearted, and I know he’s going to be successful at Auburn. I’m looking forward to seeing him play on Saturdays.”

Tate Johnson, who anchored Callaway’s offensive line this season, believes Bigsby is the complete package.

“Not only is he a dynamic athlete, but he has football smarts,” Johnson said. “That together makes him special.”

Napier, who oversaw an offense that averaged more than 40 points per game, said Bigsby “practices how he plays. He practices with unbelievable effort. He’s going 100 mph every single play, and it shows. It’s proof that if you train your body to do that, then you’ll be able to perform like that.”

Bigsby has the physical tools to do big things, and Napier said he also has the other attributes needed to achieve greatness.

“He’s special,” Napier said. “He’s obviously gifted from a size and strength standpoint, but something you can’t really coach is that desire, that want-to to win, and he plays so hard. It’s something special.”

Bigsby, who finished with more than 5,000 career rushing yards, enjoyed tremendous individual and team success at Callaway. He’s part of a senior class that won 47 games and reached the state semifinals three times.

“It’s meant a lot, just being able to play for Callaway,” Bigsby said.

Now Bigsby is ready to perform on a larger stage, and he’s looking forward to playing for head coach Gus Malzahn.

“He’s a good person,” Bigsby said. “We’re going to have a good journey at Auburn.”