Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Catholic's Craig-Myers sticks with Auburn


Tampa Catholic wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers, the bay area's top recruit from the class of 2016, knew his heart was in Auburn the moment he stepped on campus for his official visit Jan. 15. Still, wanting to give the decision-making process the thought and consideration it deserved, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior didn't tell anybody — not even his family — for another three weeks.

But Tuesday night, on the eve of an appointment with ESPN cameras on national signing day, Craig-Myers sent a text to his two brothers, his uncle and his grandmother, letting them know of his decision.

"I just felt like I needed to get it off my chest," said the four-star recruit, who narrowed his more than 48 offers to Auburn and North Carolina last week. "With them being family, I felt like they should be the first ones to know."

Even then, one important person was left out.

Craig-Myers waited until signing his letter of intent at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday to let his mother, Nicki Craig, in on the secret.

"I kept saying, 'I've been here with you through this whole thing, and then you're not going to tell me?' " said Craig, laughing. "And he's like, 'No, mom, because you're going to get excited and tell everybody.' "

That part was Craig-Myers' job.

At 11 a.m, with a crowd of hundreds looking on at Tampa Catholic, Craig-Myers took an Auburn Tiger statue out from under the table — a souvenir he found at a Dade City antique shop more than six months ago — to announce his decision.

Craig-Myers originally committed to Auburn in July 2014, but he reopened his recruitment that following spring. The Tigers still stuck by him, Craig-Myers said, asking his mother's permission to continue recruiting him even after he began considering other schools.

"It means a lot, because some coaches, they'll bash you, they'll just back off you. But they actually did it the right way and came up to my mom," Craig-Myers said. "My mom's important in my life, and if they respect her, they respect me."

Craig-Myers spent much of his high school career in the public eye, especially after he transferred to Tampa Catholic from Pasco in January 2014. He broke his fibula in the first game of his junior year and missed the remainder of that season, but he made up for lost time as a senior with the region finalist Crusaders, racking up 1,018 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns, adding six interceptions on defense.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is already impressed by his newest player.

"Nate Craig's a guy that we recruited for a long time. He's a big, athletic guy," Malzahn said on ESPNU. "We really think he's a difference-maker. He's a guy that can come in and play early and play well early."

The day only got better for Auburn after Craig-Myers' announcement. Less than two hours later, his younger brother, three-star Pasco High cornerback Jayvaughn Myers, also committed to Auburn, turning the War Eagles into a family affair.

"It would be a dream come true. Not too many brothers in the same class go to the same school," Craig-Myers said of playing with his brother. "That would definitely be a dream … sharing a dorm room, having somebody there, going through it with you to lean on."

But as evidenced by Wednesday's signing-day festivities at TC, having people to support him has never been a problem for Craig-Myers. During his decision he was flanked by Craig and older brother Josh Johnson, a former Purdue and Canadian Football League cornerback. Behind them was the entire Tampa Catholic student body, cheering his name and rooting him on.

As Craig-Myers waited in silence for the broadcast to begin, he lowered his head and said a little prayer. He was shaking, his mother said, and she could tell he was nervous. But right then, she paused for a moment to take in the scene.

"I got teary when we were just sitting there, waiting and waiting," Craig said. "I was just looking around, seeing all the people, and I just felt the family. It all just felt so good."

When all was said and done, Craig-Myers said it was Auburn's family atmosphere that made it the perfect fit. So finally, in front of his existing family, Craig-Myers beamed as he made it a little bit bigger.

Contact Kelly Parsons at Follow @_kellyparsons.

HomeTeam 25

Tampa Bay recruits — from our four-county coverage area (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando) — as ranked by the Tampa Bay Times staff.

1. Nate Craig-Myers, Tampa CatholicWR6-2/205Auburn
2. TJ Chase, Plant City WR6-2/167Clemson
3. Jayvaughn Myers, PascoCB6-1/185Auburn
4. Jacob Mathis, Berkeley PrepTE6-3/223Ole Miss
5. Craig Watts, Admiral FarragutS6-0/180USF
6. Julian Santos, East Lake G6-4/290Duke
7. KJ Sails, East Bay CB5-11/170North Carolina
8. Kee Whetzel, Countryside WR6-3/186Oregon State
9. Bo Peek, Plant DT6-3/290Stanford
10. Brandon Walton, SeminoleT6-4/300Fla. Atlantic
11. Rex Culpepper, Plant QB6-3/225Syracuse
12. Grayson Stover, Hudson T6-6/300Indiana
13. Brandon Drayton, Largo S6-2/175Indiana
14. Keldric Preston, Robinson DE6-4/245Wisconsin
15. Chris Oladokun, Sickles QB 6-1/175USF
16. Scoop Bradshaw, PlantS5-11/175Syracuse
17. Jake Hansen, East Lake LB6-2/220Illinois
18. Michael Hampton, HillsboroughCB6-1/180USF
19. Deedrick Daniels, Chamberlain CB6-0/180Virginia
20. Dedarallo Blue, Armwood CB5-10/180Toledo
21. Devontres Dukes, WhartonWR6-4/191USF
22. Felipe Fernandez, Plant T6-4/313Ohio University
23. Chris Barrett, Countryside TE6-2/225 Georgia South.
24. John Chiaramonte, CCCLB6-3/237Air Force
25. Pro Wells, Dixie HollinsTE6-5/210Marshall

Tampa Catholic's Craig-Myers sticks with Auburn 02/03/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 11:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …