By Brandon Gann
AUBURN, Ala. - For many, playing Auburn football is a dream. Defensive back Michael Sherwood lives that dream every day.
A native of Atlanta, Ga., Sherwood is pursuing a degree in strength, conditioning and performance as he strives for success on and off the field, taking advantage of his playing time with enthusiasm.
When deciding where to play following his high school career, the football program and Auburn great Cam Newton were the primary draws.
“After Cam won his national championship, it made me want to see what the hype was about. I really like Auburn. It’s very family oriented,” Sherwood says.
That family feel, for Sherwood, has become something that has meant more to him as time has gone on. Through his teammates, he found friends and family for life.
“Everybody truly and genuinely loves each other here, and that’s kind of like what I grew up around,” Sherwood explains. “I met a lot of my best friends coming to Auburn. I’ll say I’ve made more family here than anything.”
Being part of a team is a special experience, one Sherwood will treasure for a lifetime. Having teammates to rely upon and experiencing the ride of being a major college football player creates memories for life. One such memory is getting a visit from the very player who got him interested in Auburn.
“The best behind-the-scenes moment has to be in the locker room when Cam came in before the Iron Bowl,” Sherwood said. “We grew up watching Cam because he’s from where we’re from. That was kind of cool to do that with him.
“The coolest thing outside of football? Meeting Aubie,” says Sherwood, laughing.
The 2017 season will be Sherwood’s last, and the fifth-year senior has his sights set, both personally and as a team, on big things.
“My personal goal is just being out there with those guys and being able to play,” Sherwood said. “Team-wise? We’re trying to get that SEC Championship. That’s our main goal right now.”
Sherwood’s time at Auburn is coming to a close and he can’t believe how quickly it has transpired.
“It’s crazy; when I first came here, I never thought this day would come. Just yesterday I was a freshman in 2013, my head was spinning and we were going to the (national championship),” he says.
“I feel like I’ve definitely grown, more as a person than anything. I feel like I found myself and found out who I was before anything else,” Sherwood recalls. “I guess you could say Auburn has been a good place for me.”
His biggest area of improvement, Sherwood believes, has been time management.
“Always making sure you’re trying to do your work, learn the playbook, get to learn the plays, and try to play on top of all of that, and also making sure to keep your grades right while trying to play at a high level,” Sherwood said. “Balancing that has been something to be proud of.
“Auburn also taught me that family is big. You do need to rely on your teammates. It’s made me more humble and made me appreciate everything more.”
It’s no surprise what Sherwood will miss the most once he graduates from Auburn.
“I definitely will miss the camaraderie in the locker room,” Sherwood said. “Just going in there and seeing those faces every day and knowing that they have your back -- I feel that will be the scariest part of leaving college. Knowing that you won’t really be with those guys anymore -- that will be the most challenging part for me.”
To his younger teammates, Sherwood has one simple message.
“Take the journey step by step. It’s a long process, it’s very grueling and takes a lot of time,” the Atlanta native said. “But enjoy it and have fun more than anything. Don’t dread it. You’re going to have ups and downs, but that’s just life.”
His time here has given Sherwood a deep appreciation for Auburn and the Auburn family, and it’s to them he wants to show gratitude.
“I love Auburn. I love the Auburn fans. War Eagle always,” Sherwood said. “I love being able to do the Tiger Walk and interacting with fans. I truly feel like we have the best fans in the country and believe it with all of my heart.”
This fall, when fans see No. 36 on the field, they know a true teammate and Auburn Tiger is having the time of his life.
Brandon Gann was a student assistant in Auburn Athletics Communications during the spring semester.