March 1, 2012

Bynum blazing a trail

Valwood offensive lineman Aulden Bynum knows what it is like to blaze a trail.

After all, he does play high school football in "Winnersville" but doesn't play for either of the most notable programs, Lowndes or Valdosta High School.

Bynum, who received his seventh offer from UGA Thursday morning, is joined by offensive lineman Griffin Clyatt, linebacker Allan Taylor, and athlete Rashad Mathis as being one of the most successful, and recruited classes in Valwood history.

It is a feat that Bymun sees as an honor.

"I've been at Valwood since I was in Pre-K," said Bynum. "It feels good to get Valwood some publicity. It seems like we have always struggled on the football field here, and we went 1-9 when I was a freshman. Now we have turned the program around, and its cool that we get to steal the spotlight from Lowndes and Valdosta on some weeks."

While the Valdosta native has been concerned with helping his team get ready for the 2012 football season, and becoming a better player, SEC and ACC schools have been making sure to let Bynum know that he is wanted on their campus.

"Recruiting has been crazy, really," he said. "It all started when Auburn offered while I visited their Junior Day in late January. Since then, it has been pretty hectic. South Carolina offered me less than a week after that, and then Ole Miss offered me right after that. Then Mississippi State came in after that, and so on."

Bynum is considering all of the schools that have offered thus far, and will be at Clemson for their Junior Day this weekend.

He does, however, have close ties to two SEC programs that have extended offers.

"My older brother goes to Ole Miss, and my dad graduated from Georgia in 1975," said Bynum. "My dad is a season ticket holder, and I've been going to games at Georgia since I was a baby."

Its clear that the Peach State lineman comes from a home that supports the Bulldogs, but what are his current feelings toward the Georgia program now that he is able to decide for himself?

"I really like Georgia as a program," he said. "They are a great program, and I grew up cheering for them, so I like them a lot."

When the Georgia staff extended their offer to Bynum on Thursday morning, they made sure to let the South Georgia prospect know that they like him a great deal as well.

"I spoke with Coach (Mark) Richt on the phone, and he kept it pretty brief," said Bynum. "He let me know that I have an offer, and that they want me to be a Bulldog. He said that they want me to come up and see a spring practice and everything. Then Coach (Will) Friend and Coach (Mike) Bobo came on after that and just built on what he had to say."

Although Bynum has a great deal of love and respect for the Georgia program, he has no plans of changing his plans after the UGA offer.

"Even now that they have offered, I'm still going to go through the recruiting process," said Bynum. "I'm going to get to know all of the coaches and build those relationships and everything."

At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, Bynum has an ideal frame to be a successful bookend at the next level, but according to the Valwood lineman, it is his mentality that sets him a part from other players.

"I think I play on the offensive line with a defensive lineman's mentality," he said. "I play both, and I like to play both. I just try to bring the best of both worlds together to be the best I can be."

The recruiting process can get quite daunting, and create confusion for big time prospects.

Bynum, however, knows exactly what carries the most weight when looking for a perfect fit for the next level.

"The first thing I am looking for is the relationship I have with the coaches," said Bynum. "The next thing would be tradition, and that would be followed by game day atmosphere. I am looking at those things in that order."

As for Bynum and the Valwood program, the star lineman is always thinking about how he can best serve his team, and is even planning his timeframe for a commitment around the needs of his team.

"I'm going to decide either early or mid fall," he said. "By the time the playoffs come around, I want to have it out of the way so I can just focus on my team and help us win. That is what is most important."

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