Auburn’s Tank Bigsby shines in loss to Georgia
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
On a losing night, Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby’s performance was a bona fide bright spot for the Auburn Tigers.
Bigsby, a freshman from Callaway High, was Auburn’s top offensive performer during Saturday’s 27-6 loss to the rival Georgia Bulldogs.
Bigsby, who made his first start in his second collegiate game, not only got it done on the ground with eight carries for 31 hard-earned yards against Georgia’s dominant defense, but he was also the team’s leading receiver with seven catches for 68 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Bo Nix, who was the SEC’s freshman of the year in 2019, praised Bigsby’s performance after the tough night in Athens.
“That was the best part of the night, just watching him play. That guy is a fighter. I’ve never really seen anything like it,” Nix said. “He was the spark there when we needed one. He made some huge plays there over and over and over. He’s the one that really kept us rolling. Really pleased with what we saw out of him. Just have to get everybody playing like Tank.”
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn also complimented Bigsby, who was the only running back who had any carries in the game.
“Tank’s a competitor,” Malzahn said. “He’s got some play-making ability. The last two weeks, he’s gotten some game experience that will help him moving forward.”
Bigsby wasn’t the only player with Troup County connections to make his presence felt in the game.
Red-shirt freshman Keiondre Jones didn’t start, but the former Callaway Cavalier ended up playing much of the game on the offensive line at right guard.
Also, freshman wide receiver Kobe Hudson, a Troup High graduate, made first collegiate reception.
In the fourth quarter, Hudson made an over-the-shoulder, 18-yard catch on third-and-long to keep a drive alive.
Callaway High graduate Tate Johnson, a freshman offensive lineman, didn’t appear in the game.
Bigsby arrived at Auburn after an extraordinary high-school career that included an epic performance in his final game.
Against Brooks County in the state semifinals in 2019, Bigsby ran for 270 yards, but it wasn’t quite enough as Callaway lost 39-35.
Bigsby finished his senior season with 1,636 yards on 143 carries with 27 touchdowns, and he had more than 2,000 yards as a junior.
In both of his final two seasons, Bigsby averaged more than 10 yards per carry.
Matt Napier, now the head coach at LaGrange High, was the offensive coordinator at Callaway when Bigsby was there, and he recalls a ferocious competitor.
“He wanted to win, and he put the weight of the team on his shoulders,” Napier said. “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, has seen plenty of outstanding players during his more than 20 years in the coaching business, and he puts Bigsby at the top of the list from an effort standpoint.
“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.”
Auburn (1-1) will try to get back in the win column when it hosts Arkansas next Saturday.
NOTE: Photos courtesy of Auburn’s Todd Van Emst