Buford High School Alumni – Then and Now: Seth McLaughlin
It was Monday, January 10. The two biggest teams in the SEC, the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama, faced off in the national championship game. Social media was abuzz with posts from fans swearing allegiance to one side or the other. In Buford, Georgia, a town less than 50 miles from Athens, red and black ties were strong and fans cheered on the Bulldogs – and Alabama offensive line center No. 56 Seth McLaughlin.
It may have been rumored that a boy from Buford was playing for Alabama in the national championship, but what they may not know is the person behind that jersey or the fantastic young man what Seth really is.
Seth is the son of Suzy and John McLaughlin of Flowery Branch and is the youngest of their three sons: JR, 26, Caden, 24 and Seth, who turns 21 in August. He began his freshman year at Buford High School after moving that summer to Georgia with his family from Alcoa, near Knoxville, Tennessee.
I still remember Seth and Suzy entering the choir room for the first time at the old BHS on a pre-ninth grade open house. I glanced at him, smiled and said, “I bet you’re here to play football!” To my delight, he came to meet his new choir teacher and see the room in which he would sing every day.
His kind, sheepish smile and hopeful eyes told me that there was a tender little boy beneath all that 6ft baby-faced musculature who was thrilled to be noticed and just wanted to make a difference. Four years later, all of Buford knew that Seth had made a difference – not just on the court, but in every class he attended.
Coach Nick Saban discovered Seth had made a difference too and came to Buford in December 2019 to sign Seth to play for the Crimson Tide. Saban visited Seth at school, came home to meet the family, and offered him the opportunity of a lifetime – a full athletic scholarship to play football for the University of Alabama. In January 2020, Seth graduated from BHS a semester early and enrolled in AU.
Currently a sophomore at the University of Alabama, Seth is a finance major specializing in value investing. When he’s not on the practice field or playing for an important game, he enjoys playing guitar and singing, which he has enjoyed since he was in eighth grade.
“I got into it because my older brother had a guitar and I wanted to do what my older brother was doing,” Seth said.
While at BHS, Seth was an ideal representative of the AAA brand. He was a 4.0 student taking AP classes, won a state football championship, and appeared on two variety shows as a backing tenor.
“Soccer was my main extracurricular area,” said Seth, who started playing the sport when he was 8 years old. “My senior year, our team hit the road in three playoff games and ended up winning the state in an overtime comeback.
“Football and weightlifting have been the most influential for me. The coaches have helped me so much to grow as a man,” he said.
He not only grew in character and strength, but he also grew physically. The No. 58 finished his high school career at 6-foot-4, having played football for four years where he was a three-time letter carrier, state champion, varsity captain and four-time Student Scholar Athlete award recipient Team award.
“I think I was very lucky to have great teachers throughout high school who helped me grow as a student and prepared me well for college,” he said. he declares.
Seth fondly recalls his construction classes with Coach Laws and says his favorite teacher was Sean Gilbert, who taught AP World History.
“You could really tell how much he cared about his students’ learning. He really wanted us to succeed in his class and as people,” Seth said.
In Seth, you could say Coach Gilbert had his wish granted; Seth maintained a 4.0 throughout college and is on track to earn his bachelor’s degree just two and a half years after graduating from BHS. All that, and he still has three years of college eligibility left.
It would appear that Seth wins the biggest game – life; even more important than stats or grades is the character this young man possesses.
Alabama fans may have seen Seth start the season as a third-string center. Most kids in his position can take it easy and think of themselves as just the practice squad. Not Seth. He continued to show his heart and work ethic until he was thrown out at halftime of the Alabama/Auburn game. A week later, he started in the SEC Championship game against UGA, then again in the semifinal game against Cincinnati, and finally in the National Championship game. Seth didn’t allow a sack in his three starts, helped stabilize the offensive line in the SEC Championship Game and helped Alabama go for over 300 yards in the semifinals.
While it might have been easy to feel defeated and slack off at the start of the season, Seth’s competitive nature and character pushed him to show tremendous poise on one of the biggest stages. – the one the Wolves first-year player could only have dreamed of, but with a quiet integrity that has shaped his entire life.
“My parents are the most influential people in my life,” Seth said. “They have always provided a loving and supportive home to come home to every day. It is a blessing for which I am very grateful. They really made me the man I am today.
“I’m so grateful to the Buford community,” Seth said. “I would love to go back and experience winning the state championship my senior year. Looking up and seeing Hayden Olsen’s basket splitting the uprights and everyone rushing onto the court is a feeling I will never forget.
And Buford won’t forget you either, Seth. Whatever the school colors, we’ll all be cheering for you, especially in the biggest game of all.
Buford High School Alumni Spotlights are made possible through the generosity of the City of Buford.