Auburn, AL—With football recruiting in full-blown assault mode, the most beautiful village on the plains is quivering with nervous excitement like David facing Goliath. The self-anointed Goliath known as Alabama is poised to land a mighty death blow.
In the wise words of ESPN commentator Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friends.” Gene Chizik and his smart as a fox recruiters have already entered the chicken house. They are attempting to steal as many golden eggs as possible.
Some outside the city limits of Auburn may be willing to turn an arrogant eye toward the plains while turning up their noses. However, the ambition of the Auburn coaches certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed—especially with the players they are now recruiting.
For the limited length of time Chizik, but more importantly, his assistant coaches have been on the recruiting trail for Auburn, they have made some serious inroads to some high level talent. That's making the boys on the other side of the state take notice.
Is it too late for Auburn to convince some of those players to commit to play for first year head coach Gene Chizik? I can’t answer that question. Who can truly get in the minds of these young men, let alone predict with certainty what they will do from one week to the next.
The best thing Chizik and his staff can hope for is to make a lasting impression on the recruits, an impression that will last 14 more days—national signing day is Feb. 4.
Tana Patrick, a four-star linebacker, stated after his weekend trip to Auburn, “the visit improved the Tigers' chances.” The in-state player from Stevenson will visit Southern California and Miami next. “It went really well. I got to know the coaches and everything, so it went real good. I got to know Coach Roof a lot.” Patrick said the decision would ultimately be between Alabama, Auburn, USC, Miami, and Tennessee.
Not one recruit leaving Auburn Sunday had one negative thing to say about their recruiting experience. Most of the visitors taking their first official visit were pleasantly surprised. That leads me to question what other coaches were maybe saying about Auburn, hmmmm?
What do the positive responses from the recruits truthfully say about Auburn? Obviously for the recruits that have never been to Auburn before, they are finding out firsthand what Auburn and the surrounding community have to offer them: family atmosphere, great education, campus life, and a winning tradition—not to mention a real chance for playing time for some.
Can you find all of that at other schools? Sure, but my point is, the discovery of what Auburn's about is enticing to the recruits.
The countdown to the final days for official visits has begun, and some new surprises for the Auburn family have emerged.
Gus Malzahn and receivers coach Trooper Taylor visited highly regarded wide receiver Emory Blake in Austin, Texas on Monday, a day after Blake, rivals.com's 42nd-rated WR, was in Auburn taking an official visit, according to Auburnsports.com. Blake told the website he was favorably impressed with Auburn, and his parents like Malzahn and Taylor.
Rising star QB Clint Mosley will take his official visit after committing last week to play for the Tigers. A product of Leroy, Mosley has been voted Alabama’s Mr. Football. He’s a solid pickup for the Tigers and has a lot of upside. Auburn is pretty loaded at the QB position.
I don’t expect Auburn to sign former commitment Raymond Cotton. Cotton has expressed new interest in Ole Miss as well. I see him signing with Houston Nutt.
Offensive coordinator Malzahn asked Clint to wait to take his official visit to help recruit some big-time players Jan. 30. Who will be there? None other than the No. 1-rated WR in the nation, Rueben Randle.
Emmitt Randle, Rueben's father, told the Birmingham News on Tuesday that his son will take an official visit to Auburn after all. Auburn became a laughingstock in the state after Randle’s high school coach had reported that Rueben would visit the Tigers two weekends ago, but the supposed trip was canceled.
No one outside of Auburn believes the Tigers have a legitimate shot to sign Randle. However, their odds certainly improve once he’s on campus. The fact that Auburn is even in the mix this late in the game is a miracle in itself. You gotta give credit to this staff for going after the big boys.
Malzahn was in Bastrop, La., on Monday visiting with Rueben and his family. "He came here yesterday and talked to Rueben," Emmitt Randle said. "He's going to check out the school on Jan. 30." Mr. Randle added that Rueben has not expressed much interest in Auburn, and his top four schools are still LSU, Alabama, Miami, and Oklahoma. The player visited Alabama this past weekend. LSU is reportedly the favorite.
Obviously Gus said something Rueben liked during the visit. Now it will be up to Chizik and Gus to close the deal on Rueben’s father as well.
Another big-time recruit is Petey Smith. According to AuburnUndercover.com, Smith said he is very eager to check out Auburn's defense. The Under Armour All-American linebacker has some questions, and he’ll look for some answers this weekend when he visits Auburn. Who better to give him those answers? Chizik is known as one the best defensive minds in the country.
Petey Smith is the brother of current Auburn running back Eric Smith. One would think that would be a sure win for the Tigers. Never count your war eagles before they hatch.
The opposition can spout off anything they want too about Auburn and this new coaching staff. They have more than proved they are not afraid to get in the mix with Goliath or Satan himself.
Recruiting is like boxing. You stand toe to toe, land a big hit, and take a big hit. All that really matters is who is standing when the final bell rings. Auburn is looking to land a KO in round 14. Ding-ding!