April 21, 2014
Tyler Stovall says he's living the dream at Auburn (Laruen Barnard photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Tyler Stovall figures he's a lucky guy.
He signed a scholarship to play baseball at Auburn way back when, and now he's on the Tigers' football team vying for playing time.
In between those two events, some six years apart, was a stint as a professional baseball player, first in the Atlanta Braves organization. Today, he's a backup punter and holder, and has proof that he can do it after playing in the A-Day Game on Saturday.
"Growing up a Braves fans and an Auburn fan, I couldn't ask for much more," Stovall says. "It's definitely a blessing. I got drafted by the team in baseball of my choice and I got to play football for the team of my choice. What more could you ask for? That's living your childhood dream."
What more could you ask? How about being good enough to be considered to play baseball and football at your favorite school?
Stovall isn't quite sure what triggered the renewed interest in his football career. Heck, he's surprised anybody remembered he was once an all-state punter in Hokes Bluff. Quarterback, pitcher and outfielder, too.
"Vanderbilt offered me a scholarship to punt out of high school. Jacksonville State offered me to play quarterback and punt," he said. But he signed to play baseball at Auburn, but then signed with the Braves as a second round pick in 2008.
He pitched in the Atlanta and Kansas City organization, played independent ball before deciding to take a break. Then football came calling. He decided to give it a try.
"It all started when Alabama contacted me about punting. I was, 'Man, I haven't punted in five or six years. Where is this coming from?'" Stovall remembered. "Then South Carolina called me and finally Auburn contacted me. I was biased. I grew up an Auburn fan and figured this was the place for me to be. I had already signed here once, so it was easy for me to come back."
Stovall held for three kicks at A-Day. His quarterback skills makes him a contender, especially on those extra point plays when Auburn lines up as if it is going to go for a two-point conversion. Backup quarterback Jonathan Wallace is a candidate for that job, too.
He could have played with Auburn and be gone by now. But the Braves came calling.
"But pitching, you play once every five days. It took me awhile to get used to that," Stovall said. "I had always been on the field playing and interacting. I struggled how to turn it on and off. I pride myself being an athletic guy. Four days a week I'm just sitting here. That was kind of tough on me."
He left baseball, but the Braves are paying his way at Auburn.
He was on the team last fall and dressed out a couple of times for home games and travelled to the national championship game. But he was being redshirted. He would wait again. Now, Jimmy Hutchinson is in line to punt, but Stovall is ready.
"Given my baseball background, I'd like to think I have pretty good hands," Stovall said. "That will be cool." And there's the threat of a two-point try. "I think it will be exciting to have that kind of role," he said.
"This year I'm looking to see everything plays out."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine