On The Plains with Eugene Asante: “The glory resides in God”

by Riley Hubbard
Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers

AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn senior linebacker Eugene Asante was exposed to what it takes to play football at the highest level at a young age. Asante’s brother, Larry, played defensive back at Nebraska and later for five seasons in the NFL. 

Eugene claims that his drive to be a great player came from watching his brother.  

“I grew up with those memories of watching him play at Nebraska,” Eugene said. “I didn't miss a game. I didn't miss any moment because it was just such a surreal thing to see your brother get to college and play at that level. So as a young kid, I remember saying, ‘Man, I'm going to be there one day too.’” 

Larry, who is 12 years Eugene’s senior, earned First Team All-Big 12 honors in 2009 as well as All-Big 12 honorable mentions in 2007 and 2008. He finished his collegiate career with 224 career tackles, third-most all-time for a Cornhusker defensive back. 

“I saw his hard work all throughout the house growing up, even in high school,” Eugene said. “He spent a lot of time outside the house, working out and putting in that dedication of perfecting his craft. It's so impressive to me that my brother was able to make it to the National Football League because he wasn't born in this country. He was born in Ghana, where my parents are from in West Africa. 

“The fundamentals that are required to play the game, the ins and outs of it, some kids develop it at such a young age, but he didn’t have that. So just being able to develop that within such a short period of time and then get drafted is something I really truly admire, and I tell him all the time.”

Asante also gives credit to Westfield (Va.) High School for preparing him for the college game.

“Going to Westfield, I knew it was an extremely prestigious high school program,” the Auburn linebacker said. “There were a lot of expectations and I feel like that program was run the right way. 

“They did a great job of getting players ready to play high school football and preparing those that wanted to pursue college dreams. Coach [Kyle] Simmons and that staff did a good job of doing things like a college program in terms of preparation, in terms of meetings and in terms of practice. To go into high school like that, it honestly prepared me and allowed me to become more disciplined, and I have those people to thank for it.”

20231021_FB_vs_OleMiss_Asante9_AP_11126AUBURN, AL - October 21, 2023 - Auburn Linebacker Eugene Asante (#9) takes a bow during the game between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL. Photo By Austin Perryman

Asante began his college career at the University of North Carolina, where he saw some playing time as an underclassman. He appeared in all 13 games his freshman season and in 12 games his sophomore year, when Asante recorded 27 tackles, including a then-career-high 10 of them in the Tar Heels’ Orange Bowl game against Texas A&M.

As a junior, Asante finally made the starting lineup a couple of times and tallied 23 tackles, but the linebacker decided it was time for a change. When he started making visits to decide on a new home, Auburn stuck out immediately. 

“I was able to meet everybody and just be in the city and be in the town,” Asante said about his official visit to the Plains. “I saw how people were truly embraced. I understood the rich tradition of playing football here at Auburn, understood that it means something to play here to a lot of people, and I wanted to be a part of that. On my official visits, I was able to be hosted by some great guys. Kam Brown was my host, and I got to kind of experience the city firsthand.”

“Through this game, my biggest thing is trying to allow people to see that the glory resides in God. And I think that's ultimately what people need in this world.


Eugene Asante


When making the decision to transfer, Asante made it clear that he wanted to not only improve as a football player, but he also wanted to grow in his faith. During his visit, Auburn team chaplain Chette Williams was the one that made the strongest impression. 

“When I left North Carolina, the biggest thing I was looking for was just trying to be developed and trying to grow as a young man – grow as a Christian and grow as a player as well. A big thing that attracted me to Auburn was when I was able to sit down with Brother Chette and I was able to have those conversations with him. He's certainly somebody that I admire. His story has trials and tribulations, but he's still standing. He's such a great person and great man of faith.

“Faith plays such a great part and who I am and who I want to be. I was raised in a Christian household where it was church on Sundays – that was non-negotiable. I understood how big faith is in my family, and I understand how far God has brought me through all the trials and tribulations I've had in my life. So, I feel indebted to always give God the glory, understand that my life is not my own, and that everybody's here for a unique purpose. 

“Through this game, my biggest thing is trying to allow people to see that the glory resides in God. And I think that's ultimately what people need in this world. Way more than results of a game or anything, I think that's what really means the most. If we can bring light and attention to that, we'll start to see growth as a people.”

Asante arrived on the Plains and played the first four games of the 2022 season on special teams before making the decision to redshirt. Going into the 2023 season, he was eager to prove to new head coach Hugh Freeze that he could be an integral part of the Tiger defense. 

“To be honest, I was extremely hungry to show Coach Freeze and his staff what I could do,” Asante said. “I was on the scout team my first season and it was a hard thing for me because I was an upperclassman on the scout team. Last year was kind of personal for me. 

“First and foremost, I wanted Coach Freeze to know I cared about football. And how I let him know I cared about it was by my preparation, by knowing what I needed to do defensively and by busting my tail while I was out there. It really attested to everything I went through in 2022, just trying to prove to the coaches that I could.”

And he was able to step up and prove himself in a big way in 2023. Asante had a breakout season for the Tigers, leading the team with 86 tackles, along with 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. 

In his first Auburn start, at California, Asante recorded a new career-best 12 tackles, a couple of quarterback hurries and a third-down sack of Sam Jackson in the fourth quarter. The linebacker was a crucial part of Auburn’s 14-10 win over the Bears in a defensive battle. 

“Honestly, I think that game was such a big confidence booster for me because I was given the opportunity by my coaches,” Asante said. “Some of those things I did on the field were not of my own personal doing and I say that to people all the time. That was my first ever start at Auburn and I got SEC Defensive Player of the Week. I want people to understand that there's a testimony to God's glory and that if you really do truly believe in Him and give Him all the honor and praise, He can elevate you.”

Auburn Linebacker Eugene Asante (9)_20230909_FB_atCAL_ZB_0150BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 09 - Auburn Linebacker Eugene Asante (9) during the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Cal Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, CA on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo by Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers

The senior believes that he has much more to prove in 2024. His personal goal is to win the Butkus Award, awarded to the best linebacker in the nation, while his priority is to be someone remembered for laying it all on the line for Auburn. But Asante’s main focus is to put the team in a position to play for a conference championship. 

“The goals and aspirations that I have within this game are the reason why I came back to Auburn because I truly do believe we can have a special team,” Asante said about the 2024 squad. “I want to play for an SEC championship, and I feel like our fans deserve that. From top to bottom, people do truly care about our team and our success. I feel like it's only right for me to go 110 percent because they deserve something. 

“Personally, I believe that if you play in an SEC Championship, you're playing for something special. But ultimately, I just want to be somebody that fans say, ‘Eugene left it all on the field.’ That's what I really want to be remembered for here.”

When Asante isn’t on the football field or working out, he likes to stay around the house. The self-proclaimed homebody enjoys painting, reading and hanging out with his dog, Miss Penny. 

“I started out drawing as a kid, but I've elevated it to painting and now it's a very therapeutic thing,” said the Alexandria, Virginia, product, who received his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in May. “I enjoy it in my free time, but being an athlete, it's kind of time consuming. Lately, I’ve started to get into a little bit more abstract.” 

Books that Asante enjoys are the ones that challenge him to develop a top-tier mental game on the football field. Some of his recent favorites include “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins, “The Truth About All Men” by DeVon Franklin and “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. 

The other thing that keeps the linebacker busy during his free time is his baby Pitbull, Miss Penny. When Asante’s brother was traveling out of the country, he asked Eugene to keep the dog for a few days. Those few days were all it took for Asante to fall in love and turn the dog into a shared pet between the brothers. 

“She’s well renowned on the campus of Auburn,” Asante said about Miss Penny. “She was a little puppy at that time, but once I got her, I realized the nurturing, the care and the love that you have to put in to taking care of dog is a lot, so I can only imagine what a kid is like. It’s been great having Miss Penny. She’s such a great dog.”

As he looks ahead to the 2024 season, Asante also looks back and reflects on what he has enjoyed about the opportunity to play at Auburn and what he’ll miss after his senior year comes to a close. 

“I'm going to miss sitting at the Wellness Kitchen and having conversations with everybody – not just our team, but other teams, too,” Asante said. “I'm going to miss going to the basketball games; how they played this year – it was such a special thing to be a part of. You want to be there every home game to support that.

“I'm going to miss the brotherhood within the locker room. I’ll miss Tiger Walks and seeing all the fans cheering for us. I'll miss the little kids that tell me that I’m their favorite player. People don't understand how much that means to me because I remember a time that people didn't even know I was on the team. Ultimately, when a kid or somebody tells me something of that nature, I take it all in. I want them to be able to be proud that I am their favorite player.”

Asante9_20231028_FB_vsMSST_ZB_0080AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 28 - Auburn Linebacker Eugene Asante (9) during the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. Photo by Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers