Feb. 25, 2014
Freshman Chris Laye says his goal is to win a national championship at Auburn
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - Chris Laye grew up in Cumming, Ga., as a Georgia fan. It came naturally. Both of parents graduated from Georgia. But on his first visit to Auburn last spring, Laye knew he wouldn't be going to Georgia.
A 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end from Cumming, Ga., Laye committed to Auburn on April 5. Right then and there, he shut recruiting down. There would be no more visits, not fielding calls from coaches, no wavering.
"If I wasn't playing football, I'd probably be at Georgia," Laye said. "But as soon as I got here, I knew this was where I wanted to come. My family has been really supportive."
An honor student at Lambert High School in Suwanee, Ga., Laye graduated in December and enrolled in Auburn in January. He is going through offseason workouts with his new teammates.
Laye, who plans to major in supply chain management, says he was impressed by Auburn has to offer academically, particularly the business school.
"Then it came to where did I feel at home and who made me feel really comfortable," Laye said. "That's really where Auburn came in. It feels like home. I love all the coaches here and get along with them really well."
Laye is one of five early Auburn enrollees. Together, they are working to navigate the path they have chosen. And it isn't an easy one.
"It's definitely more of a challenge to come in here early," Laye said. "Instead of having 20 guys out there, there are five of us. It was really important to start building relationships and friendships with the other guys on the team and the coaching staff. That's one of the great things about Auburn. Everybody just welcomes you with open arms and wants to help you and make sure you get things done right."
The demands are heavy. Far from the cheering crowds, players young and old work toward the season that is still more than six months away.
"It's definitely the hardest workouts I think you'll go through in college football," Laye said. "Everybody gets so physically and mentally worn out that you really get to see who everybody is, who the leaders are and who is going to fall back. I'm just focusing on trying to be a leader."
Laye says he'll take a redshirt season if Auburn coaches decide that is best, but his attention is be ready to play when Auburn opens its season against Arkansas.
"I know Auburn is looking for a blocking tight end," Laye said. "I want to be that guy. I'm going to keep working hard to do that."
Tight ends coach Scott Fountain says Laye will get that chance.
"The main thing with him is just focus on being a true hand-down tight end position and see what he can do to help us there," Fountain said. "With a big body, he's a guy that can help us with blocking at that position. We'll see what he does in the passing game as we go. He's more of a true tight end."
Laye enjoyed teasing his Georgia friends after Auburn beat the Bulldogs 44-38 last season. He was in the stands when Chris Davis took a missed field goal attempt 109 yards to beat Alabama 34-28. And he pulled hard for the Tigers when they came up short against Florida State in the BCS Championship Game to end Gus Malzahn's first season as head coach. He says he has no doubt they'll be there again, and soon.
"Whenever Coach Malzahn speaks, you believe what he says," Laye said. "I know he's going to take us to another national championship. I really put a lot of trust in Coach Malzahn. Coach Fountain is a real good guy. We get along really well and I'm looking forward to being coached by him."
Off the field, Laye tries to make a difference. He's been a volunteer for Special Olympics and in an organization that works to help those in need.
"I try to invest my time in God, family and football," Laye said. "The thing I like best about football is just the competition. People who don't play football don't ever get that feeling of competition that we do."
Laye's ultimate goal is to play in the NFL, but he says that will not focus in his time at Auburn.
"If I get the opportunity, I'm definitely going to take advantage of it," Laye said. But right now, all I'm concerned about is being great for Auburn."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: