Austin Perryman

On The Plains with Oscar Chapman: ‘Feels like family’

by Bailey Shepherd

AUBURN, Ala. – Going into the 2023 season, Oscar Chapman was sure that it would be his last with college football. 

It began a lot like Chapman’s other three seasons, with a new coach. Another year to adjust, adapt and move forward. But it became another year of growth for the punter, who finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference with a 44.6-yard season average and had a career long 71-yard punt against Georgia, which happens to be tied for third longest in Auburn history.

After it was all over and as Chapman looked back on 2023, he realized staying another year would be even more beneficial than heading to the National Football League. 

“I could have attempted to go to the league, or I could have another year at college and not regret not taking that advantage,” Chapman said. “I really wanted to come back, and I am excited for another season with Coach (Tanner) Burns and my long snapper Reed Hughes.” 

With Burns specifically, Chapman is looking forward to having stability with the same special teams coach. 

“Coach Burns tells us what he wants us to do and for us to get it done,” Chapman said. “He’s really helped develop us as a special teams unit, and it has been amazing. We had so much fun as a group. Our expectations were still high, but we were just having fun.” 

Chapman also appreciated how well Burns encouraged and cared for his special teams players, whether it is dinner at his home or bringing them under his wing. 

20230909_FB_at_Cal_Chapman91_AP_3243BERKELEY, CA - September 09, 2023 - Auburn Punter Oscar Chapman (#91) during the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Cal Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, CA. Photo By Austin Perryman

Now looking ahead, Chapman is ready to continue his trajectory as the seasoned fifth-year punter ranked among the nation’s best. 

After starting for Auburn for four seasons, he sits fourth among career punting leaders for Auburn with a 43.8-yard average and has 41 punts of 50 yards or longer during his career. He was a 2022 Ray Guy Award semifinalist and was placed on the 2023 preseason watch list. 

As the 2024 season approaches, Chapman has some final tasks to check off his collegiate career list. He would like to hold the Auburn record for most yards punted, lead the punt special teams to be the best in the country and win the Ray Guy Award. 

So, with another season ahead under the same coaching staff, Chapman is excited to have some familiarity. He recognizes that this is an exciting time for Auburn football with a lot of promising new players joining the program. 

“It’s just really exciting to be here right now,” Chapman said. “We have all these new kids coming in that are really good, and I’m looking forward to having another year of fun with this coaching staff.”

To me, it means family to hear someone shout ‘War Eagle!’ No matter where you are in the world, whenever someone says it, I feel a sense of family.


Oscar Chapman


Chapman has some advice for the younger players, specifically for those on special teams, because it isn’t always the most glamorous position on the roster. 

“As a specialist, we have to be kind of invisible, in a way,” Chapman said. “We might do everything right, but you’re almost never recognized until you do something wrong – that’s when people put the spotlight on you. You have to practice really hard and prepare really hard to be the best and to be OK to never get the spotlight for it.” 

Apart from special teams, Chapman is excited to see the Auburn offense continue to grow and get better. As he more specifically noted with, “touchdowns!” 

“I am excited to see the offense move,” he said. “Our defense has always seemed pretty consistent, and I’m excited to see the offense do something really special this year. Of course, the special teams will always be there ready to go, but we’re very excited to see what the offense can do because we have a lot of talent.”

As Chapman has continued to tackle being a collegiate athlete, the balance of schoolwork, football and relationships has been no easy feat. Being a collegiate athlete has taught him discipline, organization, respect and above all, hard work. 

The four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree graduated in May 2024 with his bachelor’s degree in accounting, and he is working on a second degree in exercise science. 

“There is a lot of pressure with being a football player, but I want to be prepared for everything that I do outside of sport,” Chapman said. “It has also made me realize how much you need time with family and friends.”

Even to Chapman, who grew up across the world in Adelaide, Australia, Auburn has become home to him. He is thankful for the chance to have one more year here.  

“Everywhere you go here feels like family,” Chapman said. “No matter where you go, you are treated so nicely.”

With his final season on the horizon, the punter has a lot coming up. He and his fiancé Chloe Smith – also an Australian who graduated from the University of South Australia in Adelaide – plan to get married in February 2025, after six years of long-distance dating. After that, he wants to pursue the ultimate dream of American football at the next level.

Wherever he ends up, Chapman knows he is just one “War Eagle” away from feeling at home.

“To me, it means family to hear someone shout ‘War Eagle!’ No matter where you are in the world, whenever someone says it, I feel a sense of family,” he said. “In an airport, in another country, or on the street in Auburn – stranger or teammate – that’s how it feels. Like family.”

20240406_FB_ADay_Chapman91_AP_1825AUBURN, AL - April 06, 2024 - Auburn Punter Oscar Chapman (#91) during the A-Day Spring Game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL. Photo by Austin Perryman