AuburnFamilyNews.com: Military brat: Walk-on Eugene Govan 'living his dream' at Auburn

Monday, October 9, 2017

Military brat: Walk-on Eugene Govan 'living his dream' at Auburn


Eugene Govan: “I’ve been around veterans all my life, and I really respect what they do for this country. Maybe one day I'll end up serving myself" Photo: Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics

Oct. 9, 2017

By Greg Ostendorf
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. – Saturday was a memorable day for Auburn fans as they watched the Tigers take down Ole Miss, 44-23, and improve to 3-0 in SEC play. But Saturday was about much more than winning and losing. It was about honoring the men and women who serve and have served this great nation in the military as part of Military Appreciation Day.

There were veterans recognized before and during the game. Army Sergeant Adam Lee and his family received a new mortgage-free house thanks to Operation Finally Home. There was a flyover following the national anthem and a special military-themed performance by the band at halftime.

“It means a lot,” Auburn running back Eugene Govan said. “I really take pride in the fact that I can support veterans in some way. Veterans love football like everybody else. So I love that we came out here and got this win, and I love the fact that we kept giving them a shout out and stuff on the big board. It really means a lot.”

Govan, a walk-on at Auburn, can appreciate when a military family is recognized because he, too, grew up in a military family. Both his father and mother, now divorced, served in the Army since before he was born. His father continues to serve in Germany while his mother, Nikita Davis, recently retired to allow her younger son to graduate high school in Georgia.

Davis enlisted out of high school, started out as a communications soldier and eventually worked her way up to become a network engineer. She spent time in Washington, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Georgia, as well as in Germany and Iraq.

“In Iraq, I had to build and sustain a network that was about the size of Texas,” Davis said. “Any time there was an issue with that network, I had to leave my fob and go out to the different sites. My sons don’t know a lot. I didn’t tell them too much. But it was pretty dangerous.”

Growing up a “military brat” meant that childhood was different for Govan than it was for most kids. He was constantly on the move, and while his mother worked overtime to raise and support her family, Govan had to grow up faster than most of his peers.

“My mom was a strong, independent, single mother with two children,” Govan said. “She always taught me, ‘Be able to take care of yourself. Do what you need to do. Be able to do simple things.’ I know people that can’t do their laundry. I do my laundry. I cook. I clean the house. All that. So when I came to Auburn, I was already taking care of myself.”

“Eugene kind of had to step up and take care of his brother at times, take care of the house,” Davis said. “There was a lot of pressure that was put on him at different times when a mom had to work late or go to the field, and they had to take care of each other kind of like latchkey kids. So they had to be very independent at times.”

That drive and that perseverance Govan learned as a child played a major role in how he ultimately ended up on the football team at Auburn.

He didn’t follow the same path as his parents. Rather than join R.O.T.C. in high school, he was more interested in playing football. And while talented, the 5-foot-7, 186-pound running back was deemed “too small” to play for any Division I school. But after following Auburn during its magical run in 2013, he quickly became a fan of the Tigers and was determined to play there despite not having any scholarship offers to speak of.

“I told myself, ‘I’m going to try out for the team my first year and if I don’t make it, I’m coming back the next year,’” Govan said. “If I don’t make it then, I’m coming back the next year. The Lord blessed me, I made it on my first try, and I’ve been here ever since.

“It’s an amazing opportunity. You didn’t get recruited. You didn’t get a scholarship or anything. You’re just an average guy that’s out there trying to prove himself.”

Three years later, Govan is doing exactly what he set out to do.

“I told him, ‘You are living your dream,’” Davis said. “‘Even though you don’t get on the field as much, you’re running through the tunnel. You’re going to the bowl games. And this is your dream. There are a lot of kids that can’t do what you’re doing. You said you were going to go to this school. You said you were going to be on this football team. You’re doing it. So you are living your dream.’ I’m so proud of him.”

Through it all, Govan hasn’t forgotten where he came from. He hasn’t forgotten the sacrifices that his parents have made for him. And he understands better than anybody the sacrifices made by all those who have served in the military.

“I’ve been around veterans all my life, and I really respect what they do for this country,” Govan said. “It’s a hard life. It’s hard when your mom is gone at five in the morning, and she doesn’t get back until six at night. I’ve got a lot of respect for what they do, and maybe one day I’ll end up serving myself.”

Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:



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