If you were in attendance at Auburn Arena on Saturday, you were probably there out of boredom more than anything else. Watching two mediocre basketball teams close out a disappointing regular season typically doesn’t bring out a crowd. On this day it nearly filled the arena.
For those fans that stayed until the end, it was a day they’ll never forget. The big story wasn’t Auburn’s dominating 67-52 win over LSU. This day belonged to senior walk-on forward Jake Drum.
In pregame festivities, Auburn coach Tony Barbee honored the team’s four seniors and their families by presenting them framed jerseys at mid-court. This year’s group includes Adrian Forbes, Kenny Gabriel, Tom Neysmith and Drum.
Unless you are a regular at the Arena, chances are you’ve never heard of Drum. Apparently the Auburn Media Relations Department had trouble identifying him; he was the only senior left off the cover of the game program. Nice work Chuck Gallina.
Drum personifies everything there is to love about college athletics. At 6-5 and 253 pounds, he looks more like a football player than someone that can shoot the roundball. Turns out, he’s also a walk-on wide receiver for Gene Chizik’s team.
Who says the youth of today have no work ethic?
The Hoover, Ala native has averaged just over one point a game during his four-year run. Drum’s biggest night came against Alabama A&M as a freshman when he grabbed five points in just over five minutes of play.
With Frankie Sullivan and Gabriel putting the game out of reach for LSU with three minutes left, the Auburn student section began screaming in unison, Jake! Jake! Jake! The packed student section was not about to let Barbee exit without putting one of their own in the game.
If this brings visions of the movie Rudy, then you are tracking with me. With just over a minute remaining, Barbee relented. Despite 22 points from Sullivan and 14 points from Gabriel, the day’s loudest cheer was reserved for Drum taking the court.
He didn’t disappoint.
Drum immediately forced an LSU turnover and then hussled down the court and was fouled as he drove to the basket with the ball. Two shots.
Just like in the movies, he made both shots. Auburn Arena erupted again – this time, even louder. The walk-on who looks more like a regular student than a player was having the ride of his life and he took every fan there with him.
When time expired, Drum headed straight to the student section where he was mobbed by his people. There wasn’t a soul in the building who didn’t have goose bumps.
On a cool, overcast day where I wrestled with whether to get off the couch, I witnessed one of the most special days in Auburn history. It was unscripted and completely awesome.
In just a little over a minute of play, Jake Drum showed everyone what it’s like to be an Auburn Tiger.
Thanks for the memories Jake.